'The god of war is not destined for love,'
Seth held Nephthys' hand in his own as she wept, one hand over her mouth. She smiled brightly at him, nodding again and again as he stared at her softly.
"Of course I accept," she answered, fingers daintily squeezing his. Osiris and Isis stood next to them, holding each other as well. They watched their younger siblings with tender smiles on their faces, and pride in their eyes. "I will gladly be your wife, Seth."
Seth grinned, heart warm as the sun, as warm as his sand under its rays, as warm as the smile their future child would bear on their face. He swept a finger over her knuckles. "Thank you," he answered, earnestly. "I will be a good husband, I promise. I will protect you, your peace, and your harmony, for the rest of eternity."
Nephthys nodded. "I know you will," she said, leaning in to kiss him fully on the face. Their lips met, and Seth slid his hands down to her waist. "I know you will, Seth."
'Understanding , '
"Things will be okay, Seth," Nephthys assured him, as she rubbed his shoulder softly. He was hunched over a pile of scrolls and steles, a palm firmly pressed to his forehead.
Nephthys' stomach was much larger now, life growing within it. Seth couldn't wait to see his child, the proof of his and Nephthys' own love. He glanced at her bump once, and sighed, calming down.
"Shit," he whispered, scratching at his hair. Nephthys was absolutely astonished when she had seen it, never expecting for him to ever let it grow out this long. "They're serious this time. I don't know if-"
"We suffered a lot of casualties after the last war."
His wife nodded.
Seth raised an eyebrow.
"But I know that no matter what, you'll pull through. War is terrifying, but I believe in you, Seth," she continued, and kissed him softly on the cheek.
Seth gripped her hand. Nephthys would never understand the true devastation of war, but he thanked all the stars and the creator herself for that.
Seth lifted Anubis into the air, letting the giggles fill his ears like music. Each little laugh bubbled with childlike wonder and sunkissed softness.
"Father!" Anubis shouted, kicking his legs around. Behind them, Nephthys laughed, hand over her mouth. "Higher, higher!"
"Still higher?" Seth asked, shooting a pillar of sand from the ground, lifting Anubis up, up and up. "It's a good thing father is the desert, hmm? Who else could lift you up this high?"
His son giggled softly. "No one!" He answered earnestly, and like father like son, they both showed off their canines in a grin. Anubis leaned over the tower of sand. "But ah- I want to go lower now, I want a hug from father."
The god of war was happy to comply. "Of course." Slowly, the pillar of sand lowered, and soon, Anubis was back into his arms.
"I love you," Anubis whispered as he leaned in to rest his head on Seth's chest.
Seth placed a hand on his back. It supported his son's little head, just as any good father would for his newborn. He said nothing, then, but they both knew he loved Anubis too, and that his son was, single-handedly, the greatest thing to ever happen to him.
No one else would ever make him as happy.
No one else could.
'But rather, betrayal,'
"She's been lying to you for centuries, " Sekhmet whispered, words like venom in his ear. "Anubis isn't your son, you fool. He's Osiris'."
His entire body veered. His limbs felt like they were falling apart, like his bones had turned to dust.
"Nephthys!" He whispered, fangs bared and shaking. "Did you…is Anubis my son?"
Nephthys' eyes widened.
"Sekhmet!" She cried, hands over her mouth again, just like she had them on the day he asked for her love. She looked around wildly.
He stared at her, throat dry.
"I…" she breathed, trembling. "It's true- Seth, it's true...I…"
She paused, the only sound in the room being Sekhmet's laughter and Nephthys' choked sobs. "I'm so sorry," she said. Seth remembers how stricken with both grief and fear she looked, as he gripped her arms, fingers tightening over her skin.
His eyes dug deep into her own, crimson, violent, burning.
Seth couldn't really remember what happened next, except that he went looking for Osiris, his heart bleeding.
Seth felt his body being pressed to the ground, surrounded by thorns and vines.
By flowers- sickeningly red flowers that smelled of him, looked like his hair. Osiris's repulsive, revolting, appalling 'gift' to him.
And just like his brother's affections, Seth did not want it.
He was fucked against the walls, pushed up against pillars, on the floor, all with the promise of Osiris' obsessions, and his own son's life.
Throat hoarse, mouth agape, fingernails drawn, Seth could only endure, endure, endure, as Osiris took him again and again, as he lost more and more and more .
As his masculinity, strength, power - as everything that made him a man, a god - was taken away, stolen from him, ripped into shreds.
As he was made into nothing.
As he lost his love, his life, his thousands of years of forsaken devotion.
As he lost everything, that day.
Everything smelled of corpses.
It reminded him of the familiar scenes of war, full of rot, and death. They always reeked of loss and the fire of cremation, and stank with devastation. Seth had seen it all too many times - crying wives and children, men slamming fists into the already ruined earth, wishing for home, for safety, for their friends and their families.
And these hounds had the exact same stench.
Behind them, a figure stood proudly, black headpiece blending smoothly into the crepuscular inkinesss of the evening sky.
They tipped their chin back lightly, and ice froze over his beating heart.
"Anubis," he breathed out.
"I am Anubis," the figure introduced, sternly poised and devoid of emotion. "God of the dead."
Seth felt a part of him die. He could feel thorns carving into his flesh, digging into his skin and shredding the meat from his body. Then, it all came rotting off, falling off in flakes.
He pressed his face into his hands, hunched over, and shook. His eyes were open wide. His breaths came out in pained heaves.
"When you have your coming-of-age ceremony, this father of yours hopes that you become a god just like your mother."
All those years spent protecting Egypt, his lands. Those thousands of years spent keeping his family safe.
Those days, weeks, months, years, spent teaching his son, holding him, trying to keep him from violence. From death.
He really was a failure.
'So it's why I'm not going to call what we have 'love','
Horus places a hand over his, freezing his reminiscing thoughts. His breath hitches at the abrupt sense of warmth spreading through his body.
"Are you okay?" Horus asks, and his voice, while quiet, is coated in an unbridled tenderness. "You looked-"
"I know what I looked like," Seth hisses, frowning. He hates being watched, and more than anything, having his feelings assumed. "I don't need you telling me."
But thank you for caring.
Horus nods. He's so understanding. A boiling softness blooms in Seth’s chest.
'Even though you make me feel how I think love is supposed to: warm, safe,'
"Whatever," he eventually says, waving Horus away. "What did you come here for?"
"Just to see you," Horus answers. "I like being near you, uncle."
It's spoken so earnestly, Seth almost chokes. Heat creeps up to his neck and his face; Horus is far too bold for his own good.
Thank you , he thinks again, even through how flustered he feels, though only for a second.
He snarls. "Wh-" he starts, still so caught off guard. Horus stares at him; Seth senses the cheeky glint in his eye. " Stop. Bastard."
He doesn't even notice it until his mind wrings his heart back into the thoughts of the past, into the memories and-
He feels so much lighter. There's still a heavy weight on his chest, but it's more of a hammer and less of an anvil now. Like a family of corpses, rather than the armies of them that he's witnessed far too many times in the past.
Seth closes his eyes.
And he breathes a sigh, of relief.
'As if I'm worth something.'
"Come here," he whispers, and though it's quiet, it's still imperative.
Horus understands. He moves to stand closer to his uncle, opens his arms. It's an offer.
'As if I'm okay.'
Seth takes it. He leans into Horus' touch, and in the same way grief is all consuming, so is Horus' embraces. The loss washes off him.
He can almost feel his woes evaporating. There are traces and tracks of it left behind, but-
Maybe things will get better. Maybe there are still things to do, to look forward to.
'It's quite a mystery isn't it? What we are. What we should be.'
Seth lingers in his touch, saying nothing. Against Horus' bare skin, all he feels is cotton.
If only for a second, Seth thinks back to the trials as well, those foolish contendings that they fought tooth and nail for, though Horus' motives in them were questionable. He remembers how Horus stood in front of the Ennead with him, separated by a gap in the platforms as they spoke to the court.
He remembers Horus, the hero, in each contending, first, when they fought in a dance of the underwater currents, second, when they raced sailboats in the gales that Horus loved oh-so-much and-
Third. When Seth realised, more and more, that love was as waning as the moon, the tide, and that it was not wrought by power.
By being king.
The hesitation he felt then. How it sank right into his bones-
The feeling of stone, piercing, sinking onto his chest, when he first saw Anubis, his little boy, his little son, flat on the sands, Horus above him, charmed sword in hand-
Seth clenches his eyes shut.
Horus' arms are still wrapped around him. And so are his own- his fingers clench lightly around his nephew's back, not wanting to let go, but also knowing that Horus won't go anywhere - not until he's better. Not until Horus knows he's okay.
His shoulder is tucked under Horus' chin, and their faces are pressed together. The skin of his cheek is so smooth, really like a child's; so full of youth.
He can feel Horus' breathing. He can hear it.
'But I don't think I need to name it.'
"Thank you," Seth earnestly mutters, words trickling with a perilous honesty. He's half hoping that Horus doesn't hear it, half wanting Horus to know how much he means to him. Seth hates vulnerability, he hates weakness. It's a pity that his heart is just so raw around his nephew.
But...Horus' presence, for all the confidence, strength, and ardour that it gives him, might be worth it after all, Seth realises.
In the end, Horus is strength.
"Look at me," Horus instructs, and Seth, while he normally hates being ordered around, does as he's told.
But not without some complaints, of course.
He tears the headdress off his nephew, flinging it to the floor. Horus blinks for a moment.
Then he flashes Seth a smile worth ten lifetimes.
"How can you expect me to look at you when you have that pigeon headdress on you?" He sneers, wrinkling his nose. Horus lets out a hushed chuckle.
"You're right, uncle," he says, laughter simmering down into a plain smile. "My apologies. It was a mistake."
Seth stares, judging, though not fully serious. He quirks an eyebrow.
"Uncle," Horus repeats.
Seth tilts his head back a little. His lips are pulled into a thin line. "Yes, yes, I'm looking."
"Good," Horus whispers, before tucking a lock of hair behind his ear. He smooths a thumb across Seth's cheek.
Then he kneels down, and presses a kiss to Seth's lips. Seth very willingly kisses back, arms shifting upwards to wrap around his nephew's neck.
Horus' lips are so soft, so easy to kiss. They're so warm. Just like the rest of him. Seth's palms rub over his neck, his shoulders, his back, just as much as he can reach.
Then Horus pulls away - and with lips stained with moisture, beams at him.
"You're everything to me," Horus confesses, as if Seth hasn't already heard it a hundred times before. "And you'll be okay."
Seth looks at him, and there's a genuinity in those blue eyes that he's never seen in anyone else before.
He nods, hands still spread over Horus' skin, and leans in again.
'After all, all I need is you.'