The pillar of lives

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Warnings/notes : pseudo-Ancient Egyptian AU, Yami/Yugi, very slight hints at Mahado-Yami, Jou, ooc, cliches, sappiness.

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. This ficlet is part of 'Feast Of The King's Shadow', meaning its title is taken from this novel by Chaz Brenchley.

written at 25th october 2003, by Misura

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Yami hated the construction-site at first sight. It was noisy and dusty. He didn't understand what he was supposed to learn here or why his father insisted on him visiting it for five entire months. That was nearly half a year! Surely he'd have died from boredom long before then ...

"Watch where you're walking, you!" A blond man yelled as he nearly bumped into a staple of bricks. Yami scowled. How dared that ... that -mutt- scream at -him-, the Pharaoh's heir, like he was an ordinary laborer? In Thebes, he could have had the offender whipped for that!

"You should apologize to him, Prince Yami." Mahado remarked chidingly from behind him. Yami glared at him. Why did his tutor always pop up when he least wanted to see him? It seemed as if any time Yami did something wrong, Mahado was there to make some scathing comment.

Oh, he was smart enough to stay polite, yet the superiority was there just the same. Secretly, Mahado felt himself much better than Yami, that much the prince knew for sure.

"It'd only keep him from work." Yami replied airily, lightly stepping aside to evade a water-carrier. Mahado frowned, but didn't seem to be willing to argue the point.

"You don't like it here." Mahado stated after they had watched the proceedings for a while. "You think all of this is unimportant to you, that you have better things to do with your time than to be here."

Yami snorted, not dignifying Mahado's words with any other reply. They both knew the truth of them, though Mahado probably didn't agree with his sentiments. Mahado might be a mere three years older than Yami, yet from the way he talked sometimes, you'd think he was an old man.

"If only you opened your eyes to it, you would find much to enjoy in this place. Yet you prefer to remain blind to its beauty and wisdom." Mahado sighed. "Don't stay out in the sun too long, my prince. And please try not to hinder the work anymore. I don't want you to get in an accident."

"Because my father would skin you alive." Yami waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. "Don't fret, Mahado, I'll be fine." To his annoyance, Mahado lingered for a moment, seemingly searching for something to say.

"I care about -you- as well, Yami." Mahado said finally, before abruptly turning away. Yami shook his head in disbelief. If Mahado truly cared about him, he'd allow Yami to go back home -now- instead of in another five months' time.

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Since he didn't exactly have anything more interesting to do, Yami studied the building of the new temple for the remainder of the afternoon. The work advanced very slowly it seemed, considering he couldn't see much of a difference to show for three hours of hard labor.

When dusk set in, he rose and headed back to the tent that was going to be his temporal home. It was tolerable, possibly even luxurious compared to Mahado's smaller one, but it was hardly half as big as his sleeping room in the palace. He felt cramped in it.

Lost in thought, he didn't even notice the small figure before it was too late to dodge. The collision sent both of them to the ground, the contents of the waterbucket the other person had been carrying splashing over Yami and soaking his clothing.

"Oh, I'm so sorry! Forgive me, I'm such a horrible klutz!" Wide purple eyes stared at him from a heart-shaped face, pleading and with a hint of fear in them. They belonged to a boy with hair that looked a lot like his, only softer. Everything about the person that was brabbling apologies without moving off of him was soft, in fact. It made it hard to stay angry at him. Yami found himself smiling reassuringly at the boy, while murmuring reassurances.

"Could you get off of me? And what's your name by the way?"

"Yugi." The boy looked even more adorable when he blushed, Yami noted with some amusement. Ignoring the hand Yugi extended to help him up, Yami got back on his feet. His wet clothes clung to his body, making him long for the comforts of his tent.

Still, it wouldn't do to simply walk away now. That might result in his never seeing Yugi again, which wasn't a pleasant prospect somehow. Yami told himself it was simply because he enjoyed pretty things. And Yugi was most assuredly pretty.

"Yugi ... do you live here?" Yami asked. He liked the taste of Yugi's name on his tongue. "I am Yami by the way." He had meant to put Yugi more at ease by staying anonymous, allowing him to call him by his given name but apparently he had underestimated how well-known the name of the crown prince was. Yugi paled considerably.

"Yes, your majesty, prince Yami." He'd have knelt too, if Yami hadn't prevented him by quickly stepping forwards and gently grasping his wrists. "I live in one of the houses in the village."

"All alone?" Yami questioned. "And you can call me 'Yami'. In fact, I -command- you to do so." Yugi gasped, starting to shake his head.

"My grandfather used to take care of me, but he died last winter." Yugi whispered. He looked miserable, either because the loss still hurt or because he was distressed by Yami's previous words.

"You're much too young to live all by yourself." Yami quickly considered his options. He wanted to take care of Yugi, for reasons he preferred to think of as practical and rational, but it wasn't very likely Mahado would just let him 'waste' his time here with Yugi in his comfortable tent rather than out in the heat to watch the construction of the temple.

"I'm not -that- young." Yugi pouted. "I'm seventeen already." Yami raised one eyebrow. Yugi didn't look even close to his age then. Unless he was lying about it, which seemed rather ridiculous.

"The prince means that you might wish to come live with him, at least temporally, and that you might profit from his educational instruction." Yami spun around to find Mahado had sneaked up on him again. He swore that one day, he'd find out how the priest did it. Mahado smiled friendly at Yugi.

"But ... but ... " Yugi stammered, looking to Yami for support. Unfortunately, Yami was so stunned by both Mahado's words and appearance that he was as much at a loss for words as Yugi.

"Of course, you'd have to quit your job here, should you accept. And you'd have to go with us to Thebes in time." Mahado added pensively.

Yami wanted to demand what Mahado thought he was doing. True, he was interested in Yugi but ... Mahado was acting as if he was going to stay together with the boy for the rest of his life! That hadn't exactly been what he'd had in mind, had it?

"Could I really come with you? Your maj- Yami? Is that what you want?" Yugi and Mahado were both staring at him now, awaiting his decision, his choice.

It was an easy one, in the end. Five months of utter boredom or a lifetime with Yugi ... ony a fool would not know which of the two to prefer.

"Yes, Yugi. I wish for you to stay with me."

For a moment he was afraid the boy would faint. Then he recovered, letting out a whoop and dancing around Yami, who smiled before he started to laugh at Yugi's exuberant joy, and Mahado, who managed to keep a straight face, though his eyes were sparkling as well.

"See, Yami? The most precious things can be found where you least expect them, all the way down the pillar of lives that carries this kingdom." Mahado's voice was barely audible over Yugi's. Not that it mattered to the priest whether or not he was heard. Yugi himself would always remind Yami of this particular lesson.

-ending of this snippet-

A/N: Warned it'd be cliched. And sappy. -grins ruefully-