Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh.

A/N: Just a little something new, please read and review.

Ties that Bind, Ties that Break

Once upon a time there was a king in Egypt whose heart was heavy because that he had no son. He called upon the gods, and the gods heard, and they decreed that an heir should be born to him. In time came the day of the child's birth. The seven Hathors greeted the prince and pronounced his destiny.... [1]

The loud slapping of sandaled feet echoed in the empty corridors as the pharaoh stumbled his way through the darkness, unable to see past five steps ahead of him. The message had come hours before dawn, during the time when the division between night and day could not be distinguished but could only be considered in relation to each other and observable by the degree of darkness outside.

Had it been earlier in the night, the torches lining the halls would not have been so dim and he would have been able to move faster. But as day approached night, the lighted torches faded away with the decreasing oil, almost as if swallowed by the proclaimed natural light of Ra.

Atemu had chosen, perhaps unwisely, to go without his guards. Part of the reason for this was because he strongly believed in the privacy of the situation and, out of his love, wanted to display respect for his Queen by honouring this privacy. The other part was more obvious, it wasn't a place for men and even he could not enter her chamber before it was all over.

"Come down placenta, come down!"[2]

The pharaoh momentarily stopped. The midwives were using a spell to assist birth, and a rarely used one at that. Most of the time, this was unnecessary unless the birthing was difficult or the woman was bearing twins. The loudness and strain in the woman's voice did not help in alleviating his distress in any way. He quickened his pace.

"…I am Horus who conjures in order that she who is giving birth becomes better than she was, as if she was already delivered…"

It was only a matter of time until he was to hear the all-too-recognizable dreadful cries accompanying the chant. For a man who'd encountered countless bloodshed and suffering on the battlefield, this was still something he could never get used to. He could feel beads of sweat forming at his hairline like a warm mist. His temples throbbed with an impending headache and his surroundings blurred past him.

"Look, Hathor will lay her hand on her with an amulet of health!"

The pharaoh flinched and jammed his fingers in his ears. With elbows sticking out from each side of his head, he narrowly missed skinning himself against the stone walls several times. A night guard momentarily lost his sense of courtly protocol at the strange sight but managed to drop to his knees before the king. This act of socially enforced courtesy, however, worked against he pharaoh. The prostrated guard suddenly felt a sharp kick to his side, and, believing he'd angered the pharaoh somehow, looked up to see the other man wide-eyed-half-flying-half-tumbling over him and landing on his stomach with a thud.

"M-m-my Pharaoh," The young guard stammered, attempting to help Atemu off the ground, "Please have mercy, I did not know you were… in such a hurry… a-and the running… with the ears… and w-what happened to you….? Please, I did not, please…" He futilely tried to help brush the dirt of the pharaoh's shenti [3] but the king slapped his hand away. Groaning, he got on his knees and faced the guard. The young man had never seen Atemu eye to eye before and the fire in saw in them terrified him. The guard braced himself.

"What should you be doing right now?" The pharaoh asked sternly.

"I should be… patrolling the… terrace, your majesty." He replied, turning his gaze to the ground.

"Instead, you tripped me."

"I-it was a complete accident my pharaoh please I saw you coming and fell on my knees but I did not know you did not see me here on my knees bowing to you but I thought if I did not do that you would punish for disrespecting you and I would never consider such a treasonous act I swear by -- "

"Go to the terrace then."

"Y-yes, my lord."

The dishevelled guard gave three quick bows and hurried away, relief washing over him like the first leap into the Nile on a hot summer's day.

It wasn't long before Atemu caught hold of the situation once more. His main priority was to remove the obstacle and move on. Ceremonials could wait.

"I am Horus who saves her. Make the heart of the deliverer strong, and keep alive the one that is coming."[2]

He could see the chamber door just ahead. Anticipation welled up inside him but also deep dread. While one leg pulled him closer, the other was apprehensive. The suspense from this unknown gnawed at his innards, an invisible beast feasting on his entrails. Suddenly, it dawned on him that something was very wrong about the situation. Everything was silent.

Atemu willed himself to overpower any hesitation. At this point, he couldn't care less about these frivolous rules and regulations. He was the Pharaoh. He could make or break any of these rules in an instant and no one would dare argue with him. To Hathor with the midwives and their superstitions, their aversion to men, or whatever it may be.

He threw open the double doors.

Inside were three women, all looking startled as their ruler barged in unannounced. One of them let out a shriek and almost the dropped the soiled linens she was holding, but Atemu barely noticed this. Something else immediately caught his eye and his heart sank.

"My Pharaoh - " one of the women began, but stopped when another woman placed a hand on her shoulder and shook her head.

The women respectfully stood off to one side of the room with their heads bowed. No matter how hard they tried, none of them could hold back their tears for long. The pharaoh walked toward the enormous bed in which lay a pale woman with shallow breathing and closed eyes. This was Lostris, the Queen of Egypt. He grasped one of her trembling hands and steadied it.

Lostris opened her eyes and smiled weakly at her husband. She attempted to sit up but didn't have the strength. "Darling," she said, "I think it's a boy."

"Is it?" asked the pharaoh, gently.

"Mmm, yes, I'm sure it's a boy, but they took him somewhere and I haven't had a chance to see him yet."

"Well in that case, I'll tell them to bring him out here. He should be with his mother after all."

Before the Pharaoh could give the command, one of the attendants had already rushed to the other room to fetch the child. In no time, she reappeared, holding a sleeping, caramel-coloured baby wrapped in fresh linen. She carefully handed the child to the pharaoh, gave a court bow, and left them alone. Atemu placed the baby on the bed beside his wife. Lostris turned on her side and slipped her index finger into one of his chubby little hands. Even while fast asleep, the child reflexively gripped it as hard as he could.

"Look how strong he is." She said happily, caressing the tiny hand with her thumb. "I'm so glad."

"That is because he's your son."

"And yours too."

The pharaohs chuckled lightly, "And mine too."

"He's so beautiful; I hope he stays this fair."

"Our son would have to go out into the sun some time."

"But women like men who are fair."

For a moment, the Pharaoh didn't know how to reply. He stopped momentarily to look at his arm. "I'll make sure he'll have many female admirers." He finally said.

Lostris smiled, "I was only jesting, darling." Her smile faded and she reached out a pale hand, drawing him closer until their faces were inches apart. "But please watch over our son, Atemu, and make sure he has a place in this palace. That is all I need."

The pharaoh caressed his wife's cheek with the back of his hand. He was still holding tightly to her other hand and could feel the decreasing strength in her grip. His voice caught in his throat and the only thing he could do was nod. This was enough for the Queen. She knew her husband too well to expect overly decorative words, devoid of any real meaning. She preferred it this way anyways.

She gave her husband's hand a gentle squeeze and the Pharaoh captured her lips in a soft kiss. When they parted, Lostris gave a final sigh and her brown eyes glazed over. Her head flopped to one side and closed her eyes and it was all over.

The Pharaoh lay his wife gently down on the bed and pulled the blanket up to her chin, making sure she looked as dignified as possible. His vision was blurred by the tears welling up in his eyes but he brushed them away before they could spill over. He was suddenly overwhelmed with sorrow, so much so that his shoulders sagged under the internal burden. He gripped the side of the bed until his fists turned white and dropped his head, taking several deep breaths.

He felt something brush against his arm and looked up to see a pair of violet eyes staring at him. The baby was wagging both arms vigorously, demanding to be picked up. The Pharaoh immediately scooped the child up with both arms and nestled him against the inner crook of his elbow. Satisfied, the baby dropped his arms and snuggled against the warmth of his father's body.

The faintest rays of light broke through the night sky, turning the late hours of the night into the early hours of the day. The Pharaoh took the child over to the large window which looked over a vast expanse of smooth sand. The dawn cast its shadows over the sand dunes, colouring them many shades of brown and gold. Overhead, the morning sky merged with the night sky, loosely dividing them with brilliant splashes of orange, lavender, pink, and blue. At the horizon was the jagged outline of the city, which was a three-day journey away from the palace. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky.

"Luckily for us, this is the best time to look over at our kingdom. One day, all of this will be yours, would you like that?" The Pharaoh said to his son, whose big eyes were fixed upon the scenery before them. Despite his best intentions, he couldn't shed the melancholy tone.

"You'll be called Aten Yuugi, for the morning light." He stuck his index finger in the baby's palm, as Lostris had done earlier, and kissed the little fist the baby made over his finger.

Although several hours passed, it didn't seem long before the sun was high in the sky and various people could be seen resuming their daily activities. The Pharaoh stood alone at the window, pointing out various aspects of what they saw to his son, who appeared to listen attentively. He spoke to the child in the same manner he would to other adult, feeling no need to simplify his language.

A crowd began to form outside the front gates of the palace. Word spread quickly of the arrival of the new royal and people of all classes gathered to take a glimpse of the Pharaoh's first born son. Together, they watched as the crowd grew and the Pharaoh could tell that some had travelled many days ahead of time for this event. Despite the growing impatience among the masses, he didn't leave the room until someone came to fetch him.

A servant appeared at the door with his head lowered, "Your Highness, your people are waiting." Without waiting for a reply, he quickly left the room.

The Pharaoh took one last glance at his wife's lifeless form and turned to their son, "Come Yuugi," he said, with a tap on the child's nose, "They are all waiting for you."

**

A/N: I'm starting to doubt that anyone will really like the idea of Yami and Yuugi not being brothers or lovers but......like this. Sorry if you don't like it but please don't flame.

[1] Taken from "The Doomed Prince,"
[2] A spell to assist the birthing process.
[3] Egyptian loincloth