Here we are at the last chapter! Anyone feel like crying?
The first few weeks after her announcement was known, Isis had been learning sword fighting from Lancelot, claiming it was something she always found interesting and had put on her bucket list. But both Ahk and Lancelot refused to let it continue after she had a minor seizure during a sparring session.
Roger had called Isis after her mother returned home. Although he was having a hard time wrapping his head around magic and glowing tablets, he had been immensely relieved to hear the news that he would not be burying his step-daughter. And with his call he informed her that the publishers loved her book and wanted to print it.
Isis and Tilly had been met with a few false alarms when Isis felt particularly ill at home. But the events of her impending death had brought her closer to the strange woman.
It had been two months, three weeks and three days when the time finally came. From the moment she woke up she could feel her headache worsen and her heart beating erratically. Getting to work had been the hard part of the night. She usually walked the short distance but she felt it easier to take the bus down the few blocks. It had been painful to try and make it to the museum. The moment the tablet activated she nearly fell to her knees in bliss. The drugs the doctors prescribed were nothing compared to the miracle that was the tablet. She felt normal under its effects.
She hurried down the familiar hallways to the Egyptian exhibit. She was sure Ahk would panic if she did not meet him there when he awoke. She ran as fast as she could, her body now more accepting of the movement under the effects of the tablet though her heart still protested vivaciously. There were some things the tablet could not help with.
She had been right about Ahk. He had frantically run out of his exhibit, hoping to find Tilly for the news he had been dreading for months. He didn't run for long, though. When he turned the corner, his cape swishing behind him, he caught sight of Isis just down the hall. His relieved smile did her a world of good. It sent a loving pain in her that made her heart clench.
But then everything began to slow. Her legs halted just feet from the man she loved. She saw his relieved smile turn to worry and horror. Ahk caught her as she dropped to the floor, her legs no longer strong enough to hold her up. He kneeled down and pulled her across his lap.
"Isis? Isis! Say something, please!"
"I think this is it."
He looked to a passing sculpture, asking it to tell Tilly to begin the preparations.
Isis felt her heart beating hard and fast as if trying its hardest to get a lifetime of beats into just a few seconds. Tears leaked from her eyes, trailing downward into her hair.
"Isis, remember, when you wake up do not panic. I will be there for you. I love you, Isis."
"I love you, Ahkmenrah. Kiss me." They shared a tearstained, desperate kiss as her breaths shortened with each inhalation.
"Will it hurt?" she asked, her terror leaking into her voice.
"No." His tone was gentle and sad. His hand held her behind her neck just as she had done for him so many nights ago. His other hand busied itself wiping away her tears and smoothing her hair. "It feels like falling asleep."
She looked relieved. When she spoke, her words were softer than and a whisper. "I love you. Smile for me."
He managed the best smile he could. It was worth it so see the smile she returned to him. She blinked once, twice, three times and her face went lax.
Her eyes closed, a final breath passing her lovely lips…and she was gone.
Ahkmenrah's tears fell, heavy and remorseful, as he cradled her body to his. He smoothed her hair and rained kisses upon the face of the woman he loved. Whom he would always love. He remained with her for hours in the deepest pain he could imagine. His lovely Isis was dead and nothing would be the same. It did not matter what plans they had; when her heart stopped beating his own anguish spread forth like a tidal wave, encompassing everything he was until he felt like nothing more than a husk of pure sorrow.
Only after gentle coaxing from his mother did he realize they needed to act. He lifted his beloved in his arms, carrying her to a wooden crate for transportation. He stroked her cheek one final time and watched as she was covered with a sheet and taken away.
Weeks passed for Ahkmenrah without his love. While Tilly assured him that things were going smoothly, it did little to alleviate the worry and numb the pain of her loss. It was an entire month before their exhibit saw any change. Their particular section had been roped off and their sarcophagi had shifted positions while a fourth plinth had been added next to Ahk's sarcophagus.
Changes began every morning as the exhibit was expanded piece by piece. New artifacts were added to the museum's collection, claiming to be from a previously undiscovered part of the excavation site that had brought the others to the museum.
One of the changes was a new information placard adding the story of the fourth Egyptian to that of the others.
Ahkmenrah had very nearly jumped for joy when Tilly informed him that Isis would be delivered the following morning.
For the first time in Ahk's long life with the tablet, he wished the dawn to come as soon as possible. That morning he crawled back into his coffin with a smile, knowing that in a few short hours his beloved would be beside him again, exactly where she belonged.
By the time the night approached, there were four Egyptians on display and signs outside the museum calling out to locals and tourists alike to come view the newly found queen.
Isis opened her eyes. Or at least she thought she did. She saw only darkness and knew from her eyelashes bending backward that something was covering her eyes. When she tried to remove it she found her hands and body bound in soft cloth as well. She began to panic and tremble in fear as she attempted to understand how and why she was trapped.
Amidst her panic, a voice called from the recesses of her mind. The voice in her memory was soothing and heartbreakingly tender.
Isis, remember, when you wake up, do not panic. I will be there for you. I love you, Isis.
She remembered now. She had died. Was dead. They had promised to bring her back to the museum, to live as the others did. She forced herself to calm down and attempted to breathe through the stifling cloth. Every second that ticked by she worried more and more that perhaps she wasn't with the others. She wondered if she was in the bowels of the museum. She had to be within the same area of the tablet and she took solace in the fact that she was at least that close to Ahkmenrah.
She heard voices and the shifting of what must have been the lid to her sarcophagus. A hand suddenly caught the back of her neck and bid her to sit up. She obeyed and tugged helplessly to get her hands unbound from across her chest. The other's hands unwound the bandages around her head and she soon found the face of her love gazing down at her with all the intensity of a white-hot sun.
"Isis." He whispered her name like a prayer. He tore quickly at the bandages to free her arms and legs.
"Ahk," she returned with teary fervor.
The moment her limbs were free he pulled her body to him tightly and lifted her effortlessly from the sarcophagus. Their embrace deepened when her feet touched the ground and they reunited like the long lost lovers they were. Their lips met and separated with the slow beat of a
heart, crying out their joy and relief. When they finally paused, he placed his forehead against hers. They trembled as they breathed each other in.
"I thought they had lost you," he whispered in awe and relief.
"Death couldn't keep us apart. Did you think humans could?" Her breath dusted across his face and he trembled. He never knew how much he would miss having her in his arms until she was taken away from him. And now that she was here they would never be apart again.
"I finally have you."
"For all eternity," she said.
He smirked. "It's a start."
She threw back her head and laughed. He smiled as he felt the reverberations in her body and saw the smile on her face.
"We have clothes for you," he continued. "Tilly left them with us last night." He retrieved three small piles from the other three sarcophagi and placed them in her arms. He walked her to the bathroom in the next hall and waited impatiently outside for her to change.
"How do I look?" she asked as she emerged.
Her white, formfitting dress swept down to her feet and cinched at her waist with a slim gold belt. Her turquoise and gold jewelry matched his own but her crown did not stand tall as his did. Instead, it hugged her head and face like his mother's.
He stared at her with unmitigated love and wonder. "Like a queen," he said with a smile. "Please come with me. Much has changed and I wish to show you your new home." She took his hand and he led her back the way they came.
"How long have I been gone?"
"Five!" she echoed in surprise. "That…that felt like seconds to me."
"I'm glad. I wouldn't want you to have suffered."
"I'm sorry it took so long."
"Having you here makes every second worthwhile." He paused at the first display and allowed her to peruse the new artifacts.
"This is great. It's hard to believe that something like this could be pulled off."
"This, I think, is the best part." He called her attention to the information placard just outside the carved walls. The unfamiliarity of it intrigued her.
Among the greatest finds of the 21st Century was the finding of a second antechamber within the Pharaoh Ahkmenrah's tomb, containing that of his only wife. A priestess devoted to the Goddess Isis, she bore the Goddess' name as a gift for her loyal service. Artifacts have been discovered that claim their love for each other was so strong that not even death could separate them. The night the Pharaoh Ahkmenrah was murdered, the priestess Isis was found dead, having died the very moment her love had.
"Wow! Take that Romeo and Juliet. That must be the greatest love story to ever exist."
"It is not over yet. There is still one more piece of jewelry missing." He held up a brilliant turquoise ring. "Not many know that ancient Egyptians started the tradition of engagement rings." He took her hands. "Isis, all I have been, all I am, and all I will be is yours. Will you spend an eternity loving me as I love you?"
"You already know the answer. Yes."
With a smile, he slid the ring on her finger and kissed her.
They broke apart when his parents entered upon their moment.
"Would you like to make it official?" Merenkahre asked.
"Yes," Isis said, her smile never disappearing as they joined hands in front of the elder pharaoh.
"Under the eyes of the Gods do we grow. Under the hands of the Gods, we are nourished. Under the care of the Gods do we love. If the Gods will it, these two shall be united not only by bond and family, but by heart and soul. May the Gods bless this union and carry their souls together forever." He finished with a single tap of his staff on the ground and the happy couple shared a fervent kiss.
Shepseheret approached and embraced her new daughter.
"Welcome to the family."
After Merenkahre did the same, the older couple left the newlyweds within the carved walls. The two were far too wrapped up in each other to notice anything else.
"You know, if someone told me I was going to meet a handsome 4,000 year old mummy, fall in love with him, die, and marry him, in that order, I would have laughed in their face."
"And to think this all started with breaking rules."
"You know," she said softly, whispering in his ear, "I know where there is a seldom used employee lounge with a soft couch and a lock on the door. I also know it is our wedding night and I think anyone of any culture or era knows what that means."
"An elaborate party perhaps?" he joked as she led him along the hallways.
"If I have my way, we won't have time or energy left for a party."
Happy tears? Sad tears? No tears?
I'm surprised at how well this story did. When you search in the night at the musuem category by highest reviews this comes in at 17th. How wonderful is that?
Thank you for reading till the end. You make an author happy knowing their story is being read, (yes, I acknowledge the silent readers again!)
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