Disclaimer: Plain and simple. I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh

A/N: Yami will be referred to as both Pharaoh and Yugioh in this story. Takes place in Ancient Kemet (Egypt), during the war against the Shadow Magics. Yuugi's a physician, and he and Yami are already lovers. I think that's all you need. Name translations and all that are at the end of the story, as usual. I hope you enjoy!

Summary: What is in a name? Is it your name that defines who you are, or the title by which you go by? The weight of the crown can smother the strongest of men. But the crown is not absolute, and when given the proper motivation, Pharaoh can rediscover his inner strength and find his way back to the lover who is waiting for him.

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Minus the Crown

By Ocean

Chapter One: A Physician's Peril

The palace was usually silent at this time of night, for few had the courage to walk the massive halls during time of war. Their vastness was intimidating on its own, but the darkened nights of the previous months only added to the menacing shadows that licked the walls as torches burned fervently in their holders.

A solitary figure walked the expansive halls. He held no fear of the shadows, no fear of the impossibly high ceilings, no fear of the would-be assassins that sought to claim his life. There were far greater things to fear than the unknown. He feared what he did know; feared the creatures that not even the most active of imaginations could conjure. He had no time to fear the petty and idle threats of the mundane.

Yuugi's feet continued to land quickly on the polished stone of the palace floor. He was tired, having spent the day tending to the wounds of those whom had fallen in battle and those who had unfortunately been caught in the action. He reached up a hand and brushed a golden bang out of his eyes, the hair having been matted to his forehead for quite some time thanks to the heat of the day. The action would have been moot had he consented to the strict requirements of being a physician - specifically the practice of the removal of all body hair.

Yuugi very much liked his hair. He was lucky that Pharaoh did as well, otherwise his crown of black, violet, and gold would have been shaven long ago.

A palace guard glared at Yuugi as he passed. Many in the palace did not appreciate the amenities afforded to Yuugi by Pharaoh. He was allowed to roam the grounds freely without supervision, allowed access to all of the kingdom's stored goods, was even allowed, on rare occasions, to sit in and act as Pharaoh's counsel when he met with the representatives of neighboring lands. He was the only one Pharaoh showed any such emotion towards.

Though that was not to be unexpected considering he was Pharaoh's lover.

Yuugi was used to the glares and growls and whispers regarding what was considered his outlandish behavior. He understood the resentment. He was admitted a freedom that none other save Pharaoh himself experienced. Many believed that he had acquired this freedom through sexual favors he rendered to Pharaoh, but they couldn't have been further from the truth.

Yuugi matched another glare from yet another palace guard as he continued to make his way to Pharaoh's chambers. He had long since grown tired of the malevolence thrown his way. While it was true that being Pharaoh's lover did afford him numerous advantages, there was something that the royalty and guards simply refused to believe.

The wounded believed it. The ill, the dying, the poor, the unfortunate... they all believed it. Saw it. Understood it. Yuugi had been graced with Sekhmet's touch, and he dedicated himself to using his gift to heal all whom required healing, regardless of their position in life. He underwent the intense purification rituals; cleansing himself from the illnesses he encountered and purging his soul so he could better administer his gift.

And beneath all the dirt and grime and sweat and blood and tears was the kindest and purest of hearts one could ever hope to find. Those whom he encountered out on the battle fields and those lying on their cots as they waited to pass into the next world believed him to be nothing less than the living, beating heart of Kemet itself.

Yuugi came to a halt in front of Pharaoh's chambers, tilting his head to the side as the sound of hushed voices passed through the wooden doors that framed the entrance to the personal suite. Yuugi knew the deep vibrations of Pharaoh's voice better than he knew his own, and neither of the two voices belonged to him. This meant that whoever was hidden behind those doors were going against the word of Pharaoh, and that could very well lead to their instant deaths should they be discovered.

Pushing the doors open slowly, knowing that any sudden movement would cause the wood to groan loudly under the strain, Yuugi entered the room and stood quietly by the massive bed. He recognized the two men who stood huddled next to the wood cabinet that adorned the far wall. They were Pharaoh's top priests, Usi and Jibade, chosen by Pharaoh's father and insisted upon by his counsel once the current pharaoh was crowned.

Devious men they were, wholly and completely untrustworthy as they held loyalties to a long dead regime that based their actions on selfish desires that kept the commoners in the dirt and the royalty clean above all. Pharaoh loathed them, but even his will was not strong enough to dominate that of a united counsel.

Usi turned sharply when he heard someone tap their fingers on the bedpost. He frowned at Yuugi, trying to hide the fear that had gripped him during that brief moment he thought it had been Pharaoh standing beside the bed. He calmed himself with a deep breath and pulled on Jibade's robe to acquire his attention.

"You aren't supposed to be in here without Pharaoh's permission, and I am certain he did not give it to you," Yuugi stated bluntly.

"Unlike you, who travels anywhere he pleases. Much like that plague that passed over the banks of the Nile not too long ago," Usi replied in his most regal manner.

Usi hated Yuugi with a passion. His eyes were always open, ears always listening, mind always searching for those who would bring harm to Kemet or its pharaoh. He was as quick and intelligent as Pharaoh himself, and even had a limited talent when it came to dealing with the Shadow Magics. Though he was fiercely loyal to his friends, he was equally as fierce to his enemies and the enemies of the crown.

Yuugi made it very difficult for the other insidious priests to perform their duties, especially in this time of war against the Shadows. They had a plan to rid the world and themselves of the Shadows for thousands of years, but it was a plan they would have to conduct in secret. The idea had already been brought before Pharaoh and he had vehemently opposed it. Not even the counsel had been able to influence him on this matter.

"Is that... blood... on your robe?" Jibade sneered as he looked Yuugi up and down, disgust leaking from his eyes.

"What else would it be?" Yuugi countered. "I have spent the day on the battle field. In case you were not informed, there is a war going on out there." Yuugi nodded his head towards the open balcony, indicating the black and purple clouds that bruised the sky and the fiery blue lightening that struck the ground below like a serpent's tongue. "Shouldn't you be praying to the gods for an end to all this suffering rather than snooping around where you do not belong?"

Jibade was about to retort when Usi raised his hand to silence him. He eyed Yuugi sternly before burying his hands in the sleeves of his robes in preparation to make his leave. He walked up to Yuugi, pausing as he bent down to speak directly into his ear.

"We holy men have many more uses than praying to the gods for their mercy. It would be wise for you to remember that." Pleased with the threat he had issued, Usi made his way to the doors where he was stopped by Yuugi's voice.

"Pharaoh is not as blind as you think he is, Usi. It would do you well to remember exactly who he is." Yuugi said this as he kept his back to the priest, once again signaling his disdain for the man. Usi was not amused, but held his tongue as he stormed out of the room, followed closely by Jibade.

Yuugi released a deep sigh as he rested his head against the intricately carved bedpost. He was so tired of the hatred and suspicion that surrounded the palace. He longed to return to the days when all Pharaoh had to worry about was the flooding of the Nile or the desert bandits that raided the kingdom's reserves during times of drought. He longed to see crystal clear nights and white lights illuminating the vast darkness that encompassed the land when Ra guided his chariot beyond the horizon.

But most of all, Yuugi longed for the pharaoh who was before the Shadows escaped their prison and the kingdom was plunged into war. Before famine destroyed the furthest most settlements and the people became hateful and bitter and desperate with no other focus for their anger other than the crown. Before the Shadows had drained Pharaoh of most of his power, stealing it for themselves so that the one person who could challenge them was no longer a viable threat. Before the traitorous priests and disloyal counsel had torn at Pharaoh's soul and backed him into a corner so relentlessly he had no choice but to follow them for the sake of his sanity.

Yuugi closed his eyes as he removed the bloodied robe from his shoulders, letting it drop carelessly to the floor. He had to amend his previous thoughts. It was not Pharaoh that Yuugi longed for. He had never longed for him, never been in love with him.

He wanted the man behind the crown. The man who was strong, proud, stubborn, arrogant, self-righteous, passionate, mysterious, dangerous, ingenious, beautiful. Not the mask in the shape of a crown that served only to hide the soul of a pharaoh and create a pawn for the royalty.

Yuugi walked outside onto the balcony, disappointed when the cool breeze he had anticipated was replaced by an eerie stillness that offered no comfort or solace for the lone figured that stood overlooking the vast kingdom of Kemet. The Shadows seemed to enjoy his suffering, laughing in the guise of thunder as they continued to rain their terror on the once great and proud kingdom.

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Sekhmet: Ancient Egyptian god, meaning "The Mighty One." One of the most powerful of the gods, she was a protector of Pharaoh, dealing out punishment to his enemies and enemies of the crown. Also associated with plagues and diseases, being able to send them against her enemies or using her knowledge to avoid plagues and cure disease.

Usi: Smoke

Jibade: Related to royalty