Disclaimer: I don't own "Stargate: Atlantis" and I don't claim to. (If I did, Teyla and Ronon would be happily married with half-a-dozen kids by now.) I am making no monetary gain from this, it is meant for entertainment purposes only.
Summary: A romance story from the centuries, slightly rewritten. . . RononTeyla AU
Warnings: Character death, miscarriage
Title: Breath of Egypt
Dedication: To Dia.Dahling. Who made me post this. Why, I don't know – but she did.
Author's note: I'm a geek, I know. But I've always been interested in Egyptian history and mythology, and most particularly in the beautiful love story of Tutankhamun and his Queen, Anksenamun. So I've condensed the story, brought into focus the more romantic parts of it, and written an ending that is as open-ended as history shows. It's not very Egyptian, for those who aren't very familiar with the story. But, like I said, I really brought to light the romance of the story. . . So, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!
"Breath of Egypt"
The warm breeze greeted her as the first rays of light stretched across the land. The Nile sparkled with the light of a new day, and young Teyla drew in a deep breath of this wild, beautiful land that was hers.
When her father had moved them from the luxuriant capital city of Luxor to his new, idealistic capital of Amarna, she was too young to remember. But now, having returned to Luxor, she wasn't sure why he'd ever wanted to leave. Teyla couldn't imagine living anywhere other than here.
Beneath her and to her left, the royal gardens pooled in a riot of color. Even though the palace in Luxor had not been her home for long, she'd spent many hours in the garden, exploring and languishing in the smells and beauty.
When her father had died and the viziers had convinced her husband to move the capital of Egypt from Amarna back to Luxor, Teyla had been slightly afraid a lot of things would change with it. So far, however, the way of life she'd been familiar with for as long as she'd breathed ruled the house. She was free to go where she wanted and do what she wanted, and the beauty of the art around them was breathtaking. Ronon had caused many of the monuments in Egypt to be restored and rebuilt to reflect this new art style.
Even her lamp, a gift from Ronon, reflected this new style. When lit, it depicted a small painting of Teyla and Ronon together in the throne room. Artists constantly followed them: in the throne room, in the gardens, out with their daily forays among the people. It had become commonplace to see their images everywhere. And no longer was it forbidden or embarrassing to see the Pharaoh and his beloved Queen sharing an embrace. It was encouraged, even for the commoners.
Teyla loved this new Egypt.
Ronon was suddenly at her side, appearing with the quiet swiftness he freely employed to come and go. He was dressed in the gear he used for hunting and chariot-driving, and Teyla's heart skipped a beat. The roguish, sneaky grin on her young husband's handsome face made her know what was coming next.
"Come," he whispered. "We are sneaking away for a day, for fun. Come," he repeated, and took her hand. His was rough, something her father's had never been. Akhenaton had been a religious man, a peacekeeper. Ronon was a warrior, a leader of Egypt in the truest sense.
Teyla felt slightly scandalous and a little childish, sneaking through the cool halls of the palace with her husband. It was their home, and they were the rulers, but not even the supremacy of government gave Ronon and Teyla the freedom to do what they wanted when they wanted. Their young ages made the viziers believe Ronon and Teyla had to be "influenced" and firmly told what Egypt needed.
It felt good, for once, to forget the rules and sneak out to have some fun.
Ronon's strong arms held her steady as he raced his chariot across the golden desert sand. Teyla leaned back against him, closed her eyes, and lost herself to the wind; the rhythmic pounding of the horses' hooves; and the freedom this speed gave them. She laughed, just because she was happy, and heard Ronon's responding chuckle as he expertly guided the horses across the desert. In the past, it would have been disgraceful for the Pharaoh to take his Queen out in his chariot, but Ronon had never been one to hold to the past. He held firmly to some of Akhenaton's changes, ones that included Teyla's freedom. She had her own chariot, and brilliant white stallions to draw it, but there was something special about riding with her husband.
They rode all morning and well into the afternoon, taking occasional breaks to rest the horses. When at last they returned to Luxor and the palace, they both knew they'd have to face angry viziers and panicked military men, all of whom would be scared they'd lost their king and queen. But the day of fun had been worth the coolness with which they'd be faced in the palace.
Sure enough, a group of people awaited them at the entrance to the palace. None of them looked pleased, but there were varying degrees of disgust on everyone's faces.
In the back, only one looked remotely amused: John, Ronon's trusted military commander. Apparently he understood the need to go and race chariots to relax for a day.
Ronon calmly ignored the viziers and military men and took Teyla by the shoulders. He bent at the waist to plant a gentle kiss on her lips, and whispered low so no one else would hear: "Go to your rooms. I will meet you there soon." Then he kissed her again, released her, and turned to the angry crowd awaiting him.
Teyla sighed and obediently retired to her rooms, which already had the netting in place to keep out the mosquitoes and other nightly insects. A fresh bouquet of flowers sat on the low table next to her bed, and in the corner the senet table had been reset. She smiled. I know what Ronon and I will be doing for the rest of the evening.
The sun was halfway beneath the horizon by the time the door opened and Ronon slipped in. He closed it with deliberate caution, as though in an attempt not to slam it.
Teyla had her arms around him as soon as he turned. "Was it that bad?"
"No. But I don't think you and I will be escaping the palace again any time soon." Ronon sighed and threaded his fingers through hers. "Come, my Beloved One. It's time for some senet, before we have to face our duty tomorrow."
When it grew too dark to see, Teyla lit the lamps and they returned to their game. They played far into the night, unwilling to allow their relaxing day of fun and togetherness to end.
At last, when Teyla couldn't contain her yawns any longer, Ronon made the last winning move of the night and came around the senet table to kneel next to her. "Sleep well, Teyla."
She cupped his young, handsome face in her hands and kissed him. "Sleep well, my Pharaoh."
Ronon smiled, returned her kiss, and slipped away to join the rest of the palace – the rest of Egypt – in slumber.
Teyla blew out the lamps and settled into bed on her side. Her eyes drooped closed, and her body cried out for rest, but her mind wouldn't stop working and remembering the events of the day.
-Luxor – Palace-
Days passed, and Teyla felt the sickness begin to inflict her. When she called in the priest of medicine to examine her, and he confirmed her suspicions, it was all she could do to keep from running out into the palace, finding Ronon, and telling him that moment. But after their escape and return what felt like forever ago, Ronon was very rigidly following the rules to keep from getting them in trouble again. But soon, he'd promised her, soon they'd go out again. Even if they had to sneak out and cause another ruckus.
Unable to contain her joy, Teyla fluttered around her quarters, mostly dancing to the joyful music in her head. Halfway through a spin, she ran face-first into Ronon. "Oh!" she said, startled.
Ronon laughed and kissed her. "What has made you so happy?"
Teyla took his hands and guided them to her stomach. "Feel?"
Ronon's large hands smoothed across her loose white robe, then paused when he felt the slightly rounded shape her stomach had adopted. "Teyla. . .?" He turned hopeful eyes up to her face.
"The heir to the throne of Egypt," she whispered. "I bear our child, Ronon."
A wide grin split his face, and he threw his arms around her in exuberance and lifted her from the ground. He clung to her in a tight hug and spun her around and around, laughing joyously.
Then, just as suddenly, he set her down with a thump and backed away. His eyes grew wide. "Are you—?" It was apparent he now regretted his hasty reaction.
Teyla took his hands and drew him forward again. "I am fine. So is our baby." She rested their hands on her stomach and smiled.
Ronon stared down at her stomach with wide, bright eyes. He whispered something Teyla didn't catch – probably a prayer of thanks, or an incantation of safety – and smiled. Then, just as quickly, it faded. "We can't go chariot riding anymore. You have to be so careful – we can't do anything dangerous. . ." He trailed off and looked crushed.
Teyla took his face in her hands and kissed him. "We can play senet, and the Dog and the Jackal. Those are not dangerous games. And we can spend time in the gardens together."
Ronon gazed at her with wistful eyes. "The girl I did dangerous things with as a child has grown into a woman," he sighed. "Oh, my Beloved One."
Teyla crushed herself to him in a hug. "I will always be willing to do dangerous things with you."
Ronon smiled at her. "I know."
It was nice to know that, however much their short lives had changed already, some things would always stay the same.
-Luxor – Palace-
Teyla looked into the lifeless face of her deformed, stillborn baby girl and tried desperately not to cry. Ronon clung to her from behind, face buried in her hair as he shared her grief. They'd both wanted this child so much, boy or girl, heir to the throne or not.
The priest gently gathered the baby into his arms and left the grieving king and queen alone.
"What did I do wrong?" Teyla asked brokenly. "I did everything I was supposed to do. And we wanted this child, so much. We loved her. Why was she taken away before she even lived?"
"I don't know." Ronon tangled his fingers in her hair, damp with sweat, and shook his head. "I don't know," he repeated brokenly. "I will have her buried in my tomb, as quickly as possible."
Teyla closed her eyes and allowed her first tears to fall. "I am so sorry." It had to be her fault. It was as simple as that.
"No. I've heard the whispers, the rumors of curses on our family. We're the last of our line, Teyla, and I fear it will not extend past us. But – we are not superstitious, like them. We know better. They hated your father for what he did, but I'm trying to keep us safe. They're ruthless men, they'll do anything." He hesitated and looked away. "To be truthful – I've been a little afraid for you, both of you. The priests of Amun aren't happy just to have their old, stuffy temples back. They don't like us, they don't like our family. I'm afraid of what they might try to do. Be careful, Teyla, whatever you do."
Teyla's grief doubled. "Are you saying – they might try to kill you?"
"They'll accomplish nothing by that," Ronon said grimly. "I'm afraid of what they might try to do to you, though." He caressed her face and kissed her forehead. "I love you, Teyla. Beloved Wife, Nur Misur, the Light of Egypt. Always."
She closed her eyes. For Ronon to flaunt the fact that he was still defying the old ways, to love only her, was not helping keep Egypt peaceful. She'd wanted to deny it, but she felt the rumbles of discontent rising up from in the temples for a while now. She just hadn't wanted to face the truth of what that meant. "I love you, Ronon. Please be careful."
"I will." He kissed her forehead. "I will post guards outside your door, so my heart cannot be harmed."
They stayed like that, for the rest of the night, sitting side by side in each other's arms on the floor of her quarters. No rest came to them, for their grief was too great.
The burial, in Ronon's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, was short and slight-attended. The coffin of the little girl, unnamed for she had not breathed, was put in her father's tomb, and that was that.
Life went on, eventually. Teyla mourned openly for a long time, and though Ronon openly showed his grief with her, he tried to be strong for Egypt, and through that, for her. He held firm to his belief that they wouldn't allow the priests of Amun to win, that they would produce an heir to the throne. Or, at the very least, a living child.
It took them almost twelve seasons to conceive again.
-Luxor – Palace-
"Ronon, please let me come?" Teyla missed the freedom of riding in Ronon's chariot with him; even more, she missed the time with her husband.
He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her upturned lips. "Teyla, my Beloved Wife, I will not be gone long, I promise. I'm going out quickly to check the far boundaries. I will return before the sun rises to the top of the sky. As soon as this child is born, I promise, we will ride and be free together again." He kissed her again, brushed his hand gently along her pregnancy-swollen belly, and then disappeared through the door.
Teyla stood on the balcony and watched him disappear into the desert, dust flying in the wake of his chariot and team. A chill shuddered up her spine, a hideous foreboding that shrank her back into her room with her arms wrapped firmly around herself.
"Be careful," she whispered. "Please, my Beloved Pharaoh, be safe."
The sun slowly made its journey across the sky, marking time one slow movement at a time. Teyla, still gripped by her sudden fear, paced her room. She uneasily stroked her hands over the place inside her where her child rested, trying to convince herself nothing was wrong even though the sun was far past the place Ronon had said it would be when he would return.
At last she sent for John. "It is far past the time when your Pharaoh said he would be back from checking the boundaries in his chariot," she said. She attempted to hold to her some semblance of calm, of control, though everything was falling apart around her. "Take some men and go find him."
John nodded briskly and set off on his task. Teyla turned and went back into her rooms to resume her pacing.
A loud call and the sound of galloping hooves drew her to her private balcony. She watched with horrible realization that her foreboding had been right as the horses, white with lather from running, were guided to the back of the palace. That would not be so if there was not something wrong with the king.
Teyla fled her rooms and met John halfway to the front door. "Where is he?" she demanded, breathless.
John ducked his head, sadness in his eyes. He didn't have to say anything.
"What – happened?" Teyla choked out.
"One of his chariot wheels caught in a dip in the sand. He was thrown free. I am not sure how long he was there before we found him, but. . ."
Teyla didn't allow him to finish. She dashed past him and ran for Ronon's rooms as fast as she could. The tears that flooded her eyes nearly prevented her from being able to see where she was going, and she almost missed the doors to his room.
When she burst inside, she found the medicinal priest leaning over him, muttering incantations as he examined the Pharaoh. The priest spun to look at her when she made her sudden intrusion, and Teyla looked for any sign of hope in his eyes. Any hint that Ronon would be okay.
Nothing. Just blank hopelessness.
Teyla felt herself start to shake with irrepressible grief. "Out!" She stepped away from the door and pointed. "If you cannot help him, leave me alone with my husband!"
The priest lowered his eyes and moved past her. He quietly and calmly closed the door.
Teyla had already forgotten about the man as she went to kneel next to Ronon's bed. She reached out her hand and smoothed it across his forehead, which was beaded with sweat. The room was bathed with early-evening coolness, so she knew the sweat and the heat she felt beneath her fingers was signs of something horribly wrong.
"Ronon," she whispered. "Please, speak to me. . ."
Slowly, his eyes opened. "Teyla." He lifted his hand to grasp hers, but it was not the strong grasp to which she was accustomed. "I'm sorry. But – am glad you did not come. . ."
Teyla bowed her head against their joined hands. "Please do not leave me. I need you. Our child needs you. Egypt needs you. How can our people go on without you?"
"Our people are proud. They will survive." He turned his head to look at her, eyes dark with pain. "So sorry, my Beloved. . ."
Teyla felt the first tears tremble down her cheeks, and she couldn't hide them. "Did someone try to kill you? Or was it an accident?"
"I don't know." His eyes began to drift slowly closed, then open again. "I think – accident. But be sure to – watch yourself."
Two days after this ominous warning to her, the Pharaoh was dead. Only a few hours later, Teyla miscarried her and Ronon's second daughter, at only five months.
Already the head vizier, Kolya, was staking his claim on the throne. He had already declared his plans to make her his wife, so he could rule Egypt.
Teyla, terrified, widowed, and childless, did the only thing she could think to do. She wrote a letter as fast as her shaking hand could pen it and sent it via the military commander to the king of the Hittites, begging him to send his son Prince Kanaan for her to marry.
In the meanwhile, she stalled Kolya as best she could. She slowly began to realize it was this man in particular whom Ronon had warned her of, and she knew she had to do whatever it took to prevent him from taking the throne.
She spent long days in her rooms, grieving the loss of her husband and her daughters. The throne of Egypt no longer mattered to her, just so long as she didn't have to give up her devotion to the only man she ever had and would love, everyone else could fight over it for all she cared.
When the letter from the king of the Hittites arrived, denying her request with unveiled suspicion, Teyla immediately wrote back. Her response was angry. "Would I have written to you if I had a son whom I could marry? My husband is dead and I will not marry a commoner! Send me your son and I will make him King."
A few days later, she found out from John that the prince had been murdered en-route.
And so it was. Teyla had lost her beloved husband, both her daughters, and her entire future in one swift, decisive blow.
History does not record what happened to this broken Queen of Egypt. But the most commonly believed theory is the vizier forced her into marriage, then had her murdered for her firm love of her dead husband.
Either way, the young queen joined her beloved husband and loved and was loved by him again.
I go down with thee into the water
And come forth to thee again
With a red fish, which is—beautiful on my fingers.
The love of the sister is upon yonder side
A stretch of water is between
And a crocodile waiteth upon the sandbank.
But I go down into the water, I walk upon the flood;
My heart is brave upon the water.
It is the love of her that makes me strong. –Egyptian love poem