Secret sorrow

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Warnings/notes : Yami/Mahado, pseudo Ancient Egyptian canon-based AU, slightly weird, one glimmer of Seto/Kisara.

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. The song 'Secret sorrow' is taken from the anime X/1999, translated by Giovanna Vendrasco and Katashi. Lyrics slightly altered.

written at 25th may 2004, by Misura

(!) Spoils information about how the Dark Magician came to be.

italics indicate flashbacks

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There were days when he thought that maybe they knew. That maybe everyone knew.

On those days, it seemed to him that only an idiot could have failed to discern what it meant that the Pharaoh flinched whenever Mahado's name was mentioned, or that his eyes burned whenever the name of the self-proclaimed King of Thieves popped up.

/Without asking for the true reason
Of your sadness, I held you tightly/

"Beautiful."

He breathed the word, drinking in the beauty of the scene before him.

The roof-terrace was bathing in the pale light of the moon, recreating it into a place that seemed more like a dream than something that was real.

The person who was standing on the other side of the terrace, gazing at the stars, seemed to be a part of the dream too, until the moment he turned his head.

/The moon's light illuminated your face
I simply invited the love
It's painful how I can't sleep/

"They are, aren't they, my Pharaoh?" The priest smiled. It made him look younger somehow, closer to his actual age.

It occurred to Yami that he had rarely ever seen Mahado smile before. That, for some reason, he had never considered Mahado capable of smiling. Or crying.

Mahado had simply always been there, wise and ancient beyond his years. A source of advice and, most often, criticism. Never as a ... fellow human of flesh and blood.

/The fact that you were crying in a glimpse
Just when did I realise it/

On bad days, he did more than flinch at Mahado's name. Though walking out of a council-meeting was considered extremely rude and more often than not earned him a stern preaching from Shimon or whomever was delegated by the Council, he still preferred it over breaking down in front of all of them.

Because, maybe, possibly, probably, they didn't know.

They had been blind while Mahado had been still alive too, after all. It had seemed easier at the time, less trouble to not have to justify their love but simply enjoy every moment they managed to snatch away from Duty.

Yet now it seemed their secret love had birthed a secret sorrow that was eating away at him, devouring him day by day.

/Were you simply lonely?
Is this feeling a fleeting dream?
Don't say another word/

He returned the night after, to find Mahado once again there. This time, he had brought tablets with him, to make notes about the movements of the various stars.

Yami watched him, dilligently working on his task yet without the strained expression or the emotionless mask Mahado presented to the court, in public.

Feeling oddly privileged in being allowed to see the 'real' Mahado, in being ignored, he compared the Mahado he saw here, at night, to the Mahado he saw in the council, by day. They seemed too different to truly be the same person.

Especially after he had convinced Mahado to stop addressing him as 'my Pharaoh' during the few conversations they had. When he looked back, he realized that it should have been Mahado who had felt honored, yet at the time, all he had felt at being called by his first name was a glow of pride and pleasure at having accomplished this feat.

/If I love, I'll be hurting as much as I love
My thoughts have lost their light/

On good days, he returned to the terrace to watch the sunset. Or used to.

When one evening, a few hours after the last streaks of sunlight had vanished from the sky, he heard footsteps on the stairs, his heart had sped up.

The impossible was too tempting to believe.

It had been Seto, giving him that cold, superior look that silently questioned his entire existence, from his capability to rule to his right to be there.

And for a single moment, he had wished that Seto had died that day, instead of Mahado. They had made the same oaths after all, to serve and to protect their Pharaoh. Why couldn't it have been Seto? Nobody would have missed -him-.

/Even though everyone wishes for love,
They keep on passing by each other
You are the same; it hurts you, doesn't it/

Though it didn't happen often, there were nights when clouds hid the stars from human eyes. Those were the nights Yami began to like best, to a point where he almost hoped for bad weather, guilty as it made him feel to long for a thing that would hinder Mahado's task.

Without any stars to make notes on, Mahado tended to talk more. At first about general, unpersonal topics, like the weather or the recent changes in the level of the Nile, but gradually the subjects of their conversations became more personal, more like what two friends would speak about.

He felt like he'd never had this kind of bond before, with anyone. Like he'd never had a real friend.

It was strange how they still acted stiff and formal in public, but neither of them ever suggested to translate their closeness by night, surrounded by the stars, to a greater familiarity by day, surrounded by the courtiers. The topic simply never came up.

/Don't cry; no one blames you for loving someone
No one can stop the feelings
Of wanting to love someone/

It scared him how everyone appeared to be worthless and pale, compared to his memories of Mahado. Surely, if Mahado had hidden all those years behind a mask, there were others like him.

To replace Mahado was impossible, yet he felt it ought to be possible to achieve a certain friendship with someone else, without experiencing it as a betrayal.

With every passing day though, it seemed the people around him were growing more distant, more formal and stiff and less inclined to accept any overtures he might make.

Pride kept his mouth shut. Pride and a sense that perhaps being rejected would hurt much worse than not having given anyone a chance to cause him pain like that. Perhaps it was safest to remain alone.

That way, if someone died, at least it wouldn't feel like his heart had been torn to pieces.

/I'm like that too
It hurts that you can't slip away/

"Do you ever wish you weren't ... who you were?" he asked.

Mahado raised one eyebrow, regarding him curiously while considering his reply. "I am who I am. What would be the use of longing to change what can't be changed? That would be like asking the wind to stop blowing or asking the fire to cease eating fuel."

He felt corrected, like he was a young, ignorant pupil and Mahado his old, sage tutor. Until Mahado smiled that special smile of his and added: "But then again, I guess all of us wish for the unattainable. It's the very nature of wishes, isn't it?"

And Yami nodded, feeling flustered and rather brave as he put his next question to Mahado.

"What do you wish for?"

Mahado stared at him, surprised. The shifting of the clouds prevented his answer, causing him to hastily grab his stylus and tablet, leaving Yami feeling slightly disappointed.

/If I love, I'll be hurting as much as I love
Beyond tomorrow, what should the two of us do/

Their first kiss was almost an accident. Or maybe, in retrospect, it was fated, decreed by a higher power. At the moment it happened, he'd have liked to think it was that.

Mahado had finished with his work for the evening and by mutual, silent consent, they had decided to call it a night. When they descended the stairs, like they had done dozens of times before, in the dark and without any problems, Mahado stumbled.

Yami caught him instinctively, noticing how it seemed as if he could feel the warmth of Mahado's body through their clothing and hear the beating of Mahado's heart. That last probably had been merely his imagination. Or, perhaps, he had simply mistaken the sound of his own heart-beat for Mahado's.

He noticed Mahado's face was very close to his own, eyes widened in a mixture of shock and surprise staring into his own which reflected ... the same? Something in them seemed to give Mahado the courage to lift his head just slightly, enough for their lips to brush past another.

Their parting was awkward, neither of them knowing what to say.

/The days that haven't changed for the better repeat endlessly,
You have to walk alone but ...
I want you to know that I wish I were by your side/

The days after the incident, he didn't go to the roof-terrace. He didn't know if Mahado did the same or if the priest simply kept to his duty, regardless of whether or not Yami was there.

Mahado was the first to break the impasse, coming to Yami's workroom on a warm afternoon. There wasn't much work for him to be done, really, meaning he was just reading reports that he could read just as well tomorrow or even next week.

"My Pharaoh ... " Mahado's tone was formal, though his eyes weren't directed towards the floor, as protocol demanded. "Did you dislike me kissing you?"

A fair enough question. Mahado's expression told him that the decision was his to make. He could say 'yes' and Mahado would go back to being his friend, never mentioning the possibility of them becoming something more than friends ever again.

"No," he whispered, not quite sure where his voice had gone. And so, since he still read uncertainty in Mahado's eyes, he walked over to the other to prove his words.

This time, nobody could have mistaken their kiss for an accident.

/If I love, I'll hurt as much as I love
It seems that's why I can become stronger gently/

It might not be the smartest of things to visit the House of Tablets in his rare free moments, the way he had once sneaked off to the roof-terrace. Or to his private quarters, in the later stages of their relationship, when they had reached a point where secrecy seemed much less important than the comfort of a soft bed.

Rationally, he knew that only a small part of Mahado continued to exist in the Dark Magician. Yet emotionally, it felt like Mahado was back at his side in the moments when he had summoned the creature.

Letting his cheek rest against the cold stone, the dreams about what had been seemed to come easier, more substantial. He could relive every single second he had ever spent with Mahado simply by emptying his mind of all other thoughts in this place.

/Even sadness can be changed to happiness
In my thoughts I look like I believe in it/

"I don't want you to die. Not ever." He knew he sounded clingy, but he didn't care. A storm was brewing just beyond the horizon, a dark monster whose single desire was to destroy.

Nobody knew where the threat came from or when it would strike, yet all inhabitants of the palace had experienced a sense of dread for these past days, from the lowest servant to the Pharaoh himself.

Mahado chuckled. "Everyone has to die one day."

"One day ... " he sighed, feeling how Mahado's serenity soothed his nerves. "But not tomorrow."

Mahado stared at him oddly for a moment. "I have no intention of getting myself killed. Yet no man can escape his own fate."

He grinned, pretending to be more carefree than he actually felt. "It's my destiny to save the world. And it's yours to stand by my side."

Mahado answered his smile, using something more powerful than words to answer him.

/Because I won't ever give up
The feelings I have when I'm thinking of you/

Seto sighed, staring down upon the form of the sleeping Pharaoh with a slight frown. Finally, he draped one of the two blankets he had brought with him over the young man, before quickly walking on, almost as if he was afraid that his gesture would be noticed.

Halting before a tablet that depicted a fierce, proud-looking dragon, he sat down to make himself comfortable.

"He's the Pharaoh after all. I couldn't just kick him out."

For a few seconds, the image of the wyvern seemed to be replaced by a blue-haired woman, smiling down upon the Priest in a mixture of amusement and understanding. Then she was gone, leaving the Priest and the Pharaoh to their dreams.

OWARI