"Don't tell me Sir Lancelot has suddenly grown shy?"
The faceless dancers around them shook with silent laughter at the knight's flustered state.
"Not at all! It's merely... I - well, our attire is hardly suitable!" Ahkmenrah quirked an eyebrow.
"Well I'm hardly going to wear a dress to teach you to dance." Not that he was an expert at this form of dancing, but Tilly had insisted they learn at least to waltz before the museum's masquerade gala and Lancelot had proven to be a particularly difficult student. Apparently, most of the dances he was familiar with involved less contact.
"I didn't mean to suggest..." Lancelot trailed off upon seeing Ahkmenrah's teasing smile, his cheeks tinting red.
"I'll admit that my people were somewhat less... conservative than some when it came to clothing. I'm not about to have your hands removed or anything so drastic, if that's any comfort."
Seeing the furtive glances Lancelot cast toward the door, Ahkmenrah understood that it was not only the young Pharaoh he was worried about.
"You needn't fear my father, either," he reassured, trying to tamp down his own frustration with the man, "While he has been overprotective as of late, I've made it quite clear where I stand when it comes to his meddling in my affairs."
"Your affairs?" Lancelot asked with a teasing smirk. Now Ahkmenrah could feel his own cheeks grow warm.
"That's not what I meant, but yes. Those, too, would be none of his concern."
To be honest, he just wished his father would stop treating him as though he were still the child he'd known. Ever since his mother and father had learned the truth behind his early death, they'd acted as though they expected Kahmunrah to appear at any moment. They'd even pressured Ahkmenrah to accept Lancelot as his guard, as if he couldn't protect himself.
"Now, try to follow the other dancers," Ahkmenrah urged as the living mannequins resumed their graceful movements around the room.
Lancelot tried to force down the burning in his ears as Ahkmenrah took his hand and guided it to his bare waist.
'You are a knight, not some green boy. You will not act like a bumbling fool... you will not do this again.'
Still, his mind kept returning to the warmth of smooth skin under his palm. The subtle shift of lean muscle as the prince (Pharaoh, even, though Merenkahre's near-constant shadow and Ahkmenrah's youth made that difficult to remember) moved with the dance.
He knew better, really, but with every smile and laugh from Ahkmenrah, the light of a queen he'd never truly known seemed to grow further and further away.