Seto's dreams had always come in flashes. They were bright and intense and lingering, but brief and fuzzy. He woke up to the echoes of strong feelings, but not the event surrounding them.
Tonight, he'd woken after a dream as Priest Seth, watching the coronation of Pharaoh Atem. But even more than that, he spotted her in the background, by Mahad.
Beside him, here and now, Yugi roused at his motion. "Seto?"
"It's nothing." He laid back down, feeling her curl up against him. She did so quickly, sighing in contentment against his chest.
"Try to get some more rest. You have a meeting tomorrow."
"Yeah, I know." He wrapped her up in his arms.
The moment he was asleep again, he was back in Egypt.
He stood there, holding the Puzzle as Atem's body collapsed. He almost hit his knees himself.
He'd wanted to be a Priest, to serve his pharaoh and enact his will. He'd wanted to know the man behind the crown, the one with the innocent eyes and kind heart - the one Mahad knew. He was still grateful just to have made it to the palace, but he wished he could have . . . been more.
"So, it's done."
He spun around, finding the young woman who shadowed Atem and Mahad. She was roughly his age, but looked less new than Atem had, her youthful appearance belying some aged wisdom.
"It's done?" He parroted, still blindsided by her appearance.
She nodded sagely. "My mother was the Priestess before Isis and died saving the previous Pharaoh's life. As a grace to her, he allowed me to remain and grow up alongside his son. I've known Atem all his life."
"I've seen you lurking." He agreed.
"Aknaden didn't like my mother much." She admitted readily.
"How did you know this was going to happen?"
"Mother told me once in confidence that his life was destined to end once he gained the Puzzle. He would not meet Anubis, rather be locked away." She gestured to the Puzzle. "He and Zorc both, now. She was right."
He looked down at the gleaming-golden metal. "I don't know what to do."
"You take his place as Pharaoh, and make sure this sacrifice wasn't made in vain." She stepped up, reaching out to lay a hand on his. "If you'll have it, I'll stand beside you as I did Atem. You were not the only one to love him, but you are now the only one who can aid him."
"I could use the help." He admitted sheepishly. "But what is your name?"
She smiled, letting his hand go. "Neheh."
| | |
With Atem and Mahad both dead, Aknaden vanished and the country in ruins, Seth didn't think there would be any way to express his gratitude for having Neheh at his side.
She helped him arrange Atem's burial, as well as the hiding of the Millennium Items. She gathered volunteers to become Tombkeepers, Guardians of Atem's legacy and location. She also hid the Puzzle deep in the desert, far from any human settlement and far enough underground no nomad would find it either.
The doors to her rooms (ones that once belonged to Mahad) opened and he seen her for the first time.
Neheh wore the same kind of hooded linens that Isis did, but under then the two women looked nothing alike.
Neheh looked heart-rendingly similar to Atem. Her eyes were wide and purple instead of slanted and red, and her bangs weren't quite as extravagant, but otherwise . . .
"Seth? What brings you here at this hour?"
"I . . . couldn't sleep. I wanted to see you."
"Which one is it?" She raised an eyebrow, but stepped back to let him in.
He entered, immediately going and sitting on her bed. She sat down at the vanity, looking at him closely.
"You know, even as the pharaoh, this is highly inappropriate. I'm not a wife or a concubine."
She smiled the resigned smile of a teacher whose student doesn't listen. "Pharaoh, the moon has risen and you're in the chambers of a woman you've laid no claim to. If anyone caught you entering, this could be a scandal."
Gods, he wished this was still Atem's job and he could just be Priest in peace.
"I need help."
"I already promised to assist you running the kingdom, my lord."
"With everything." He added, exhausted. "This isn't supposed to be my role. I don't know what to do with myself."
She moved and sat next to him, taking his hand. "Seth, what do you need from me, truly?"
"I need a friend and an advisor. I need someone by my side."
"That would normally would be the role of your wife." She said gently.
"I have no siblings, no family, no suitors. You are the only one who understands what happened to Atem, you stood at his side." He squeezed their interlaced fingers. "If you wish to be my wife, then I will marry you. Whatever it takes to keep you next to me."
She frowned, severe and concerned. "Do you understand the gravity of that offer?"
"I'm already drowning, Neheh." He admitted. "What more could they do to me?"
"I will remain by your side, no matter what." She promised. "Sleep here tonight. I will wake you at first light to see you to your room and avoid a scandal. When you're of level head and rested mind, we will revisit this discussion. Until then, be assured that I will be here when you wake."
| | |
He fell in love with her swiftly; her loyalty, her beauty, her strength, her nobility. While he was aware that many of the old guard would not appreciate her less than royal blood as the Queen, he could think of no better partner, nor one he wished to lay with.
"Be my Queen."
In the three years since Atem's sacrifice, there had been no better companion than Neheh, his personal star, a gift from Hathor.
She met his gaze. "I will."
He spent the night with her, talking and touching over clothes. She held him so tenderly, so sweetly, and professed her own growing affection for him.
"I gave my proposal the thought you requested." He whispered against her mouth. "I want you as my wife, not just to be the Queen of Egypt."
She stroked his hair. "And I should be honoured to have you as my husband, not simply my Pharaoh."
Seto woke up curled very tightly around Yugi. She was petting him, obviously woken up by his strong grip.
"Are you okay now?" She whispered.
"Yeah." He eased off, even though he didn't want to.
"What was your dream about? You kept whispering about Neheh."
"I had a dream about the past. Atem and Priest Seth and a woman named Neheh."
"Was it a good dream?"
"Yes? I'm not entirely sure." He nuzzled into the back of her neck.
"Try to get some rest." She whispered, reaching back to pet his hair in a phantom of another life. "I'll be here when you wake up."
He kissed the back of her neck. "I know."
He grabbed her hand and thumbed the ring on her finger, the wedding ring he'd put on her less than a month ago.
"You're going to be okay, Seto." She promised.
"I love you."
"I love you too."