Chapter Eighteen

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The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon in a hint of the morning to come as the four Egyptians rode up to the Great Palace. A beautiful morning it would be. Yuugi could already see a line of people waiting outside of the Palace wall as they approached. He glanced down at the sleeping bundle resting against his chest, and he realized the morning would be beautiful because the wrong in his life had been righted. Anzu was safe in his arms.

Once Yuugi, Jounouchi and Otogi halted in front of the Palace, Jounouchi dismounted and helped Anzu down who was just beginning to awaken. Yuugi and Otogi also dismounted their own horses. No sooner had they done this, they were assaulted with two infuriated women.

"Otogi! How could you leave without telling me?" Shizuka demanded angrily, stabbing her finger into her husband's chest. He gulped and chuckled nervously.

"I would have told you, but there was no time, dear," he said, adding the endearment as an afterthought of her rage. Jounouchi laughed.

"And you, Jounouchi! How could you?"

Jounouchi turned to see Mai storming up to him, her hands clenched into fists at her sides. His eyes widened, and he looked to Yuugi for help. His friend, however, just held his hands up in a helpless gesture.

"As Otogi said, there was no time," Jounouchi said gently, attempting to embrace his fiance.

"You could have sent a messenger; we were worried about all three of you!" Shizuka cried, turning to her brother and temporarily letting her husband off the hook. Yuugi mused that the two women seemed more like mothers than lovers.

"I'm sorry!" Jounouchi exclaimed. If he wasn't so tired, Yuugi would have laughed at the sight of his friend and cousin being humbled by two women. The early morning was cold, and a slight shiver coming from Anzu at his side caused him to clear his throat. Mai and Shizuka paused in mid-scolding giving Jounouchi and Otogi a chance to regain their composures.

"Anzu needs a warm bath," Yuugi told the ladies. Mai and Shizuka each bowed deeply in acknowledgment.

"Come along, dear. Let us get you cleaned up," Mai said, pulling her along gently with Shizuka at her side. Anzu looked back over her shoulder at Yuugi.

"I will be there shortly," he promised, much to her relief.

"Yuugi," Jounouchi began with a hand on his friend's shoulder, "happy birthday." Otogi nodded with a smile. Yuugi's eyebrows went up.

"That is right. It is my birthday!" he exclaimed, for he had forgotten about it in the wake of Anzu's kidnapping. Then terror dawned in his eyes. "Oh, no, that means the celebration is today. Ra, I'm too tired to deal with the guests." Yuugi moaned to himself, closing his eyes and rubbing them.

"You needn't. Go and sleep, and I will deal with the guests when they begin to arrive this morning. I'll see you tonight," Jounouchi said, and Otogi added his agreement.

"Aren't you tired?" the Pharaoh asked in surprise, but Jounouchi just laughed.

"Me? Tired?" he scoffed in a joking manner. He motioned to the Palace just inside of the wall, and Yuugi nodded his thanks. As soon as Yuugi had entered the Palace, Jounouchi and Otogi began issuing orders to the guards lined up outside the Palace wall and the servants beginning to rouse inside the Palace.

Meanwhile, Anzu was receiving her luxurious bath in Yuugi's chambers. It had never felt so good to be clean. Well, maybe it had the first time she had bathed after arriving as a slave, but this time certainly took second place. Nevertheless, she savored the hot steam rising up from her stone tub. Since it was the Pharaoh's, it was large enough to hold three people, giving her plenty of room to stretch out.

"Oh, I was so worried," Mahalah admonished as she rinsed the rose soap from Anzu's hair. Shizuka and Mai had offered to stay and help her, but Anzu insisted that they leave to see their lovers. They had tried to hide it, but Anzu could tell that they were grateful.

As soon as Anzu had finished drying herself with a fluffy towel and had donned her robe, Yuugi entered his chambers. Mahalah bowed and quickly left, wanting to give them privacy. Yuugi approached Anzu, his eyes scanning her for any injuries. He tucked her hair behind her ears.

"Thank you for saving me," Anzu said quietly.

"Why would I not?" he asked in surprise. She looked down at the lush carpet.

"I just thought... well, I thought..." she trailed off. He lifted her chin making her look him directly in the eye.

"Whatever you thought, it was wrong," Yuugi said. "Of course, I had to save you from those scoundrels. I didn't tell you something before, and I should have." He paused, and she nodded for him to continue. "I love you."

She sucked in a breath, feeling her heart pounding. She just knew that it would vibrate out of her chest at any moment. She stared at him, completely at a loss for words. Finally, he turned away.

"You should rest," he said gruffly, feeling embarrassed, but refusing to show it.

"Wait!" she cried in alarm, reaching out for him before he walked away. He glanced back expectantly. She cleared her throat a few times nervously.

"I love you, too," she said though it came out in a hoarse whisper. He exhaled a breath it appeared he seemed to have been holding. "Please, stay with me," she continued.

His lips met hers gingerly as he lifted her into his arms. Anzu didn't even realize they had walked until she felt herself being gently deposited onto the bed. For a panicked moment, she thought he was going to leave, but soon enough, he joined her on the bed. She blushed as she realized he was without clothing. His arms circled her slender form, his eyes never leaving hers as he untied her robe.

Once naked, she shivered from the chilled air. However, his body soon covered hers, replenishing the warmth. His soft lips covered her body from head to toe in kisses. She marveled at the wonderful sensations he was causing her to feel and sighed in satisfaction. His eyes searched hers for the words she knew he needed to hear.

"I want this," she whispered. He didn't need to be told again.

- - - One week later...

Jhanu'n followed a Palace guard through the mazed halls towards the Throne Room. He had been quite surprised indeed when he was called upon by the Pharaoh himself, though the reason wasn't revealed to him. At first, he had racked his brain in panic, trying to think of anything he had done wrong that he could possibly be punished for. He could think of nothing, however, so he had come to conclude that he was being rewarded for his great blacksmith work. It was about time, too.

He hadn't been invited to the Pharaoh's birthday celebration a week ago, and that made him wonder that if he were truly being rewarded, why couldn't it have been then in front of the many diplomats from other countries. Still yet, his reward was better late than never.

He had heard the birthday celebration was the best event in a long while, in any country. Not only had the Pharaoh's birthday been celebrated, but he had also married a few days after his birthday! Fancy that. Nobody had even heard of him being engaged which caused a slight scandal, but nothing serious. Jhanu'n had not heard much about the new queen, but he mused that he would probably glimpse her when he met with the Pharaoh at court in a few minutes.

He could hardly contain his excitement as the Throne Room doors were thrown open, and the guard led him inside silently, announcing him as he did. The queen, apparently, wasn't present if the empty second throne was any indication, but that didn't bother Jhanu'n too much. If he hadn't been so caught up in his excitement, the middle-aged man would have noticed the solemn mood in the room. The members of the court weren't talking amongst themselves, but rather staring directly at him. Just as well, they'd all be sure to hear the Pharaoh acknowledge his great work.

After kneeling before the throne, Jhanu'n rose and waited for the Pharaoh to speak. He simply stared at him, however, causing the older man to fidget with nervousness. He didn't dare ask what he was summoned for though; that would be incompetent and rude. If the Pharaoh wanted you to stand before him all day long without saying a word, then that was what you would do. That wasn't the case though. A few minutes later, a guard stepped inside the room from a side door.

"Her royal majesty, the Queen of Egypt!" he announced. Jhanu'n raised an eyebrow with little interest. As soon as the queen stepped into the room, everyone present fell into a deep bow. However, Jhanu'n was too shocked to do anything but stare with his mouth wide open. The queen took her seat in the throne next to the Pharaoh's, and she stared at him neutrally.

"Do close your mouth before one of those dreaded locusts flies in it," Yuugi told him, causing Jounouchi to chuckle quietly from his place on Yuugi's other side.

Jhanu'n quickly shut his mouth though he was still too much in shock to say anything. Yuugi, on the other hand, apparently had much to say.

"Jhanu'n, you have rejected the Queen of Egypt, your flesh and blood daughter, not once, but twice. This is a serious offense, and not one that shall go unpunished," Yuugi declared, never once looking away. Horror and realization dawned in Jhanu'n's eyes as he looked frantically from Anzu and Yuugi. Anzu straightened her back pridefully, feeling stronger than her in her previous meeting with her father. Before, she was wearing a simple cotton slave dress, whereas now she was wearing the finest silk in the world and was decked out in the rarest jewels imaginable.

"It was my first thought to have you slain for such treason," Yuugi continued seriously, "but the Queen has requested your life be spared and you be banned from Egypt, a blessing from Ra on your behalf, to be sure."

"Please, may I speak?" Jhanu'n asked frantically.

"No!" Yuugi bellowed angrily. "Leave."

Two guards quickly grabbed Jhanu'n by each arm and hauled him to his feet. They dragged him out of the Throne Room, kicking and screaming. Anzu exhaled a shaky breath. Yuugi placed his hand over hers comfortingly.

"Are you all right?" he asked gently. She squeezed his hand gratefully.

"That bastard," she hissed. Yuugi suppressed his anger; he had half a mind to go against his wife's wishes and have Jhanu'n killed anyway. He kissed her palm lightly.

"You do not have to think of him anymore," he told her, and she nodded. Anzu tried to feel guilty, but she couldn't. She couldn't feel guilty over a father she had never known because he had never acknowledged or loved her. She had spared his life, and that was more than he deserved.

- - - A year and a half later...

"AHHHHHH!" came a scream from inside Yuugi's and Anzu's bedchamber. Yuugi flinched for the fiftieth time that day. His hands gripped the couch in his meeting room so tightly that his knuckles were a deathly white. His eyes were wide and red, his hair even more disheveled than usual.

"I swear with Ra as my witness, I shall never touch her again," he stated seriously to no one in particular. Jounouchi chuckled beside him.

"Come now, I said the same thing myself," he told his best friend, prying his fingers from the couch. Yuugi momentarily pictured his friend's six-month-old daughter, an adorably curious blonde. He remembered the day Mai had delivered the child, and he vaguely noted that he must look much the same way Jounouchi had that day.

"I am looking forward to when this horrible experience happens to me," Otogi said dryly. Shizuka was four months pregnant and beginning to show.

Isis hid a smile, running her hand across her sennen necklace idly. She and Seto were waiting to bless the new prince. Their relationship was still a secret, but maybe one day, they'd come clean about it. Keeping it secret reminded her of her brother's relationship with the slave. They had been secretive, and Isis felt as if she missed out on that part of Malik. She missed her brother, but didn't speak of him after what he did. The treasonous act had been known only to a few for fear of a rebellion in Egypt. She admired Anzu greatly, however, for convincing the Pharaoh to let her brother and the slave live.

Another scream erupted from the bedchamber, this one longer and louder than any of the others. Yuugi jumped up from the couch as if something had bitten him. Jounouchi looked at him expectantly.

"I cannot take this waiting any longer!" he said frustratedly. Just then, a loud crying sounded from inside the bedchamber. The door opened and Mai stepped out. She smiled and motioned for them to enter. Yuugi all but ran into the bedchamber, stopping short at the sight of Mahalah cleaning a kicking bundle. Anzu smiled tiredly from the bed and nodded.

"His royal highness, the Prince of Egypt," Mahalah stated, gently handing the tiny baby to his father. Yuugi held the baby boy in his arms, staring silently in awe. His son reached a tiny finger up and grasped Yuugi's own bigger one.

"Hello, little one," Yuugi whispered. He slowly walked over to his wife and sat down on the side of the bed. Mai, Shizuka and Mahalah left the room silently to inform Jounouchi, Seto, Isis and Otogi that Egypt had a new prince.

Anzu's eyes were rimmed in red and her faced was soaked with perspiration, but she had never looked so beautiful. She yawned and smiled. Yuugi carefully placed their son in her arms. Anzu cooed at the beautiful boy. His hair was thin, but it was already obvious that the boy would have his father's untameable mane. But when he gazed up at his mother, it was with her big, blue eyes.

"He is wonderful," Yuugi whispered, slightly afraid of disturbing the child who was busy suckling his mother's breast.

"Yes," Anzu agreed with a yawn. Yuugi stood and promised to return after she had time to rest.

"The guard who saved my life that time ago in the garden?" she started. He nodded, indicating that he knew whom she spoke of. "Make him his watcher."

"I will," Yuugi confirmed. The guard had taken a fierce protectiveness to Anzu after he had saved her life, and Yuugi knew that he would show the same loyalty to the young prince. The guard was also sweet on Mahalah, the baby's nursemaid. The Pharaoh had a sneaking suspicion that his wife was up to no good, matchmaking-wise. He grinned to himself.

Anzu had already fallen asleep with the tiny boy nestled at her side, her arm protectively around him. She would be a good mother just as she was a good queen. The majority of Egypt had embraced her with open arms, Egyptians and slaves alike, for she was pure of heart and kind. There were a few who did not accept her, but when compared with the thousands who loved her, they were few and far between. Furthermore, Anzu never let it bother her, so Yuugi didn't let it bother him unless those few people came outright with their nonacceptance.

It amazed him that anyone could not love her; he knew they just didn't want to. She was gentler than she was when he had first met her. There was nothing about her that he didn't love, even her ordering him around on occasion. He knew she loved him just as much though, and that was how it should be.

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Well, everyone, that's it! I really hope you all enjoyed it; I loved writing it. Thanks so much for reading it and reviewing (those who did). There will not be a sequel because I have already started on my newest fic, a (Yami) Bakura x Anzu fic called Target: You. I'd love it if any of you wanted to check it out.