Merneptah probably should have seen this coming long before now he supposed. It had been three weeks since Sekhet had agreed to allow him to court her and to be perfectly honest Merneptah couldn’t be happier. Everything was right in his world. Yes, he would be the first to admit that he was training less but before the new year both his father and Amunher had been pushing him to do exactly that which meant he couldn’t really understand why before it would have been great but now that he was doing what they wanted they weren’t happy about it.
Well, Amunher for one was more than unhappy about it. He was downright furious. As for his father, well Merneptah sighed as he made his way through the hypostyle hall heading towards his father’s study. He’d been out practicing some archery while riding a chariot when a servant had come and gotten him and said that his father was demanding to see him. Immediately.
Merneptah swiped his hand across his face before his hand drifted down to grasp the carnelian luck talisman he’d purchased. He meant what he’d told Sekhet he had no intentions of ever taking this talisman off because if it hadn’t been for this talisman he very well might not have found her again after the New Year.
The protection amulet that he’d purchased much to Sekhet’s bemusement he’d gifted to her the day after she agreed to let him court her. He’d told her that it would make him feel so much better if she wore it because then that would be something else helping to protect her when he himself was not around. And knowing that Sekhet herself was safe that was worth more gold to him than there was to be found in this entire kingdom.
Merneptah came to a stop just outside his father’s closed study door before he rose his hand and firmly knocked.
“Enter.” Amenhotep called out.
Merneptah pushed the door open and slipped inside. His father and Rashida were both in the room with his father seated at his cedar desk and Rashida standing beside him, both appeared to have been pouring over a papyrus although what it was about Merneptah didn’t have the slightest idea. “You wished to see me father.” Merneptah said as he came to a stop before his father’s desk his mind reminding him most readily of the multiple times over the years where he’d been sent to his father for trouble he and his siblings had managed to get up to throughout their youth.
Amenhotep glanced up from the papyrus and locked gazes with his son. “I have heard reports from your tutors that you have been distracted this past month. And your trainers mention that you are not putting your all into your training any longer.” Amenhotep said.
Merneptah frowned, “Father, if I may interject, I will admit that I am spending less time on the training field. Something, I might add both you and Amunher had mentioned wanting me to do before the New Year. However, I will contest most vehemently that when I am on the field that I do not give everything I have to my training.” Merneptah said sharply.
Amenhotep’s eyes narrowed at Merneptah’s response. “Amunher tells me that there is a girl that is distracting you. Some sorceress that turned your head at the New Year festival and you haven’t been the same since.” Amenhotep said.
Merneptah snorted. “I am courting a young woman, yes. I have been for the past three weeks.” Merneptah said.
Amenhotep was quiet for several seconds before the turned to Rashida, “Rashida, leave us.” Amenhotep growled. His father’s aged adviser bowed his head in acknowledgment before sweeping from the room. And once the door had closed after Rashida’s departure. “You mean to tell me that you are courting someone without having sought my approval for doing so?” Amenhotep growled.
Merneptah nodded, “I have indeed father. And I am falling more in love with her every day. It is my intention to one day make her my wife.” Merneptah declared.
Amenhotep rose to his feet, his hands slamming harshly down on the top of the desk as he glared at his son. “There will be no talk of marriage to a girl that I have never met Merneptah!” Amenhotep snarled.
Merneptah was quiet for a moment. He almost had said that he had no problem arranging a marriage for Amunher to the Sumerian princess without ever having met her before. Not to mention there were probably more than a dozen of his father’s own wives that he hadn’t met before they were gifted to him. However, Merneptah did have enough sense to know that saying either of those things would not help his father’s temper.
“Then perhaps, father, it might be wise for me to present her before you.” Merneptah said slowly.
Amenhotep was quiet as he starred at his son before he returned to his seat. “This girl will be beside you for the celebration of Amunher’s birth. If this girl is not to my liking then you and her will part ways and I will find you a more suitable bride.” Amenhotep declared.
Merneptah frowned, his fists clenched tightly at his sides as he starred at his father. Amenhotep glanced up and met his son’s furious gaze, “Am I clear on this matter Merneptah?” Amenhotep asked.
“Transparently so father.” Merenptah hissed before turning towards the door, “Am I dismissed?” He called over his shoulder.
“You are dismissed.” Amenhotep replied, although his tone held a slight warning in it. No doubt his father did not appreciate Merenptah’s attitude.
Merneptah stalked through the hypostyle hall absolutely fuming. Now he was going to have to tell Sekhet all about the royal event she was going to be expected to attend. The event was being held at the end of the week which means he needed to bring her to the palace and have her fitted for a dress today. Merneptah knew that he might not have a problem with how Sekhet dressed but he knew that his father and brother would look down on her common clothes if that was how she arrived at the celebration.
He needed help and it was with that thought in mind he went looking for his sister. Nefertari was in the library reading as she often did. She glanced up when Merneptah cleared his throat.
“Are you lost Meri? I’m afraid the library is not the place for you to be practicing your sword craft.” Nefertari teased.
Merneptah sighed, his hand coming up to rest on the bridge of his nose, “Enough, please sister. I need your help with something important.” Merneptah said.
Nefertari sat back from her book, “Oh, and what is it that you need my help with brother dearest?” Nefertari asked.
“I need your help making sure that father will like the girl that I present before him.” Merneptah said.
Nefertari rose a brow, “Ah, so I finally get to learn about this mystery girl that Amunher keeps grumbling about. So, when are you going to introduce her to father?” Nefertari asked.
Merneptah sighed, “Father has demanded that she be present at Amunher’s celebration this weekend.” Merneptah said.
Nefertari’s eyes widened a fraction of a second before they narrowed, “That is in four days time. And based on the panic I can see in your eyes I’m going to guess she does not have suitable clothing.” Nefertari replied.
Merneptah shook his head, “No, she doesn’t. I just,” He trailed off with a sigh, “Father declared that if she is not to his liking then after the party he is ordering me to part ways with her while he brokers a marriage deal with me to another.” Merneptah said.
Nefertari rose to her feet before walking past her brother towards the door, “Then I guess we’ll need to whatever we can to make sure that father actually does like her.” Nefertari said.
Merneptah smiled, “Thank you Nefer.” Merneptah whispered.
Nefertari chuckled, “I wouldn’t thank me yet. You can thank me after this girl impresses our father.” Nefertari said.
Merneptah nodded, “I’ll go and get her now.” Merneptah called out.
Nefertari nodded, “I’ll be in with the seamstress and together we’ll come up with the perfect dress to make her the most beautiful woman at the ball. I’m certain that Inanna will be thrilled that your girl outshines her, since she is of the opinion that as Amunher’s wife this celebration is her night to shine.” Nefertari grumbled.
Merneptah nodded, “Right. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Merneptah called out before he sprinted through the halls and out the front door. With so little time to prepare they would need every minute they could get.
Merneptah ran through the market and past Sekhet’s closed stall before continuing on his journey to her home. Today was a day that her stall was always closed because she used this time to work on carving new talismans. He sprinted up to her door before pushing it open without even knocking. Sekhet jumped at the unexpected intrusion.
“Meri? What are you doing here? You aren’t normally here until just before dinner.” Sekhet asked, frowning.
Merneptah reached down and grabbed Sekhet by the hand, pulling her to her feet. “No time to explain. We need to be heading to the palace.” Merneptah said.
Sekhet’s frown deepened as she pulled her hand out from Merneptah’s grasp. “And I’m not going anywhere unless you tell me what is going on Meri.” Sekhet growled.
Merneptah groaned as he swiped his hand across his face in agitation. “I need to bring you to the palace so that the seamstress can get your measurements and begin making you a dress.” Merneptah said.
Sekhet arched a brow, “A dress? Whatever for?” Sekhet asked.
“My father has demanded that I bring you to the celebration this weekend at the palace. So, we need to get you ready for that.” Merneptah rapidly explained before once more reaching out and grabbing Sekhet’s hand.
Sekhet sighed but did drop her carving tool onto the ground and allowed Merneptah to tug her out the door and down the street, “Can I ask what is so important about this celebration? I know its celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of the crown prince’s birth. But, you seem very anxious about this.” Sekhet said.
Merneptah sighed as he continued to briskly stride through the capital, “Because my father has declared if you are not to his liking then he will command us to part ways following the party.” Merneptah said.
Sekhet sighed but said nothing in response as Merneptah continued to drag her through the streets, although judging by the look in her eyes Merneptah would have almost guessed she’d already resigned herself to this happening.
Merneptah’s hand squeezed Sekhet’s. She would impress is father. Merneptah would make absolutely sure of that because there was no one on this earth that could force him to give up Sekhet. And he would fight even his father if he tried. Sekhet was his and that was not going to change.
The two finally arrived at the palace and Merneptah dragged her through the complex until they had finally reached the seamstress. Merneptah threw open the door startling both the seamstress and Nefertari.
Nefertari’s eyes drifted briefly over Sekhet appraisingly before she turned her attention back onto her brother. “Alright Meri, you can go now. Me and Aziza can take it from here. We’ll make her something that is absolutely stunning.” Nefertari vowed her eyes glittering at the prospect although to be perfectly honest Merneptah wasn’t certain if Nefertari cared more about getting their father to like Sekhet or about having some unknown girl upstage Amunher’s hated wife.
Merneptah sighed but nodded and after giving Sekhet’s hand one squeeze, “I’ll be back in an hour to take you back home.” Merneptah vowed.
Sekhet nodded, “You heard your sister Meri, go. I’ll be fine.” Sekhet said.
Merneptah nodded. He pressed a tender kiss to Sekhet’s lips before he turned on his heels and left. Perhaps now would be a good time after all for him and Amunher to have that rematch he’d promised after the New Year. He trusted Nefertari to be able to keep Sekhet safe.
It took Merneptah quite a while to locate Amunher but he did manage it, finding him exiting his wife’s chamber’s. There was a small bruise Merneptah could see on Amunher’s cheek but that could have been from anything really.
“Its not like you to pay your wife a visit at this time of day Amunher. What’s the special occasion?” Merneptah asked.
Amunher rolled his eyes as he went to walk past Merneptah, “Why don’t we agree that I’ll keep my nose out of your marital affairs once father chooses a wife for you and you’ll keep your nose out of mine.” Amunher grumbled.
Merneptah snorted. He’d already chosen his own wife. “I was looking for you because I want that rematch you promised me after the New Year.” Merneptah said.
Amunher quirked a brow, “Oh? You do do you? You’ve finally gotten your mind back on what is important.” Amunher said.
Merneptah nodded before he turned and strode down the corridor, “I assure you brother my focus is exactly where it needs to be. Question is, is yours?” Merneptah asked.
Amunher drew level with Merneptah harshly knocking his shoulder against him, “And what, precisely, is that supposed to mean brother?” Amunher hissed.
Merneptah gave him a pointed look, “I’m saying that I’m not the only who has had my mind on other things as of late. You don’t see me complaining to father about your own distraction.” Merneptah growled.
“And what distraction would that be brother? Unlike you I complete all of my responsibilities instead of going off gods knows where to fuck some random girl.” Amunher growled.
Merneptah whipped around and slammed the surprised Amunher against the wall baring his teeth, “I’ll have you know brother, that I have not once fucked Sekhet! She is not some common whore and I will not stand here and let you speak of her as if she is. She will be my wife one day and the mother of my children. Now apologize for insulting her or so help me Amunher you will regret it.” Merneptah snarled.
Amunher snorted, “Father will never permit you to wed her. The most she will ever be to you is your mistress. Your dirty little secret that can never be acknowledged.” Amunher growled.
Merneptah snorted, “That may be your opinion Amunher, but I know differently. I will marry Sekhet one day. Just you watch.” Merneptah stated before he finally released his brother and once more began to make his way out of the palace to the training field.
The two made the remainder of the short trip to the training field in silence before they retrieved their khopesh swords from the armorer and squared off. “Are you ready to eat dirt Amunher?” Merneptah growled.
Amunher snorted giving his sword a few experimental swings before stepping into a fighting stance, “That’s big talk coming from you Meri. Given our history you’re the one whose going to end up eating dirt.” Amunher replied.
Merneptah glared at his brother before calling out, “Count us in Bomani.”
“First blood. Ready. Fight!” Bomani called out and the two princes charged at one another with a ferocity that that never had before. Because this fight was now about more than a friendly rivalry between brothers. So much more.
This is for Sekhet!