A Cat May Look at a King
Summery: His Majesty, the Pharaoh Atemneferu, manages to acquire a new pet. Whether he wants to or not.
Disclaimer: TOTALLY DON'T OWN, FOLKS. I do own the way that I've arranged the Pharaoh's names, but didn't come up with any of THOSE either (Ancient Egyptians did), except for the names Atemneferu and Neferneferuatem, which are still based off of real names. I don't own the titles or the way they've been arranged. On that note – I've done my best as far as historical accuracy goes, but please don't take anything just because I say it. For one thing, even doing my best, the YGO canon isn't exactly the best place to try mashing fantasy and reality. Both are already confused enough, and when you try mixing them you get a mess. For another, though I really have done my best, I don't exactly have a degree in Egyptology.
Further notes: Before reading further, please be aware that Pharaohs had five names, and Atemneferu is merely the throne name of Pharaoh that we know as Atem – his birth name (according to the fanon that I've created) is Menkheperre, and if you see that by itself then yes, it's still Atem. More specifically it'd probably be kiddie!Atem, as a Pharaoh would take on a throne name (unsurprisingly) when he ascended to the throne.
His Majesty the Horus Smenkhkare, Neferneferuatem who is guarded by the two ladies, Horus of Gold Ankhkheperure, He of the sedge and the bee, lord of the two lands Atemneferu, Son of Re Menkheperre who lives forever and eternity – the Pharaoh of Kemet, the Morning and the Evening Star, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, a living god – looked at the small animal by his feet and twitched.
This was ridiculous.
If only, he wished for the thousandth time, cats were not sacred to Bast. If only his own mother had not taken the goddess as her patron deity. The formalities might not have been present (she had hardly been a priestess), but Bast had still been her goddess; everyone who had known the chief wife of the previous King had known of her love for Bast and the respect that she always showed all cats. She was long since dead, but when the prince Menkheperre had been young his mother (still young herself, as slender and lovely as any of the statues of the goddesses – thin and light boned and graceful) had hammered the fact that cats were beloved of a goddess into his small head, and he'd never been able to forget it.
It was made more annoying by the fact that he didn't particularly like cats. They always seemed to him as though they were far too pleased with themselves – smug little things. Besides, they killed birds. Rarely falcons, true, which were the symbol of Horus, but Atemneferu loved birds of all descriptions and had a fine aviary himself, with exotic birds brought from Africa. The Egyptians were lovers of luxury, and trade missions up the mighty Nile had long brought back apes, ivory, his own birds, even the myrrh trees that surrounded the palace and perfumed the air. He did not wish to lose his birds to these… these felines, as he had occasionally in the past. Besides which cats demanded an inordinate amount of attention, most of them. This was a fact proven by the kitten – a ragged little thing, with a sand colored coat and blue eyes – that was sitting quite composedly on the smooth floor, demanding recognition from Pharaoh himself.
The young Pharaoh looked away and began to walk down the floors of smooth white limestone, passing between the brightly colored pillars, coolly ignoring the little thing. It was only a kitten – if he did not grant it importance then it had none. He would go and make an offering to Bast later so that she might not be offended by his not paying attention to her little messenger. At that thought his footsteps faltered as he felt a brief flash of uncertainty – was the animal acting as a messenger? But no; what reason would Bast have to send a message to him, especially by such a lowly vessel? If the goddess did have anything to say to him then surely he would merit a more exalted being then a ragged desert kitten. She would at least send a fully grown cat, and one more regal than this tiny thing. He was a god himself after all, the living Horus, and so certainly deserved at least that much consideration. The kitten was in every way normal.
Reassured by his logic, the King began walking forward again – and nearly tripped over the body of the kitten, who had once more planted itself in front of his feet. It yowled, stringy little rat-tail bristling until it almost looked like a proper cat's tail, and swiped at his foot with outstretched claws.
Atemneferu looked down in disbelief as lines of his blood slowly began to leak through the scratches, while the kitten sat and began to harshly wash its tail. He remained fixed in that position for a few seconds, then his eyes narrowed.
"Shimon!" The Father of the God was never far from him.
"This thing has offended and injured my majesty," he said coldly. Shimon looked around in some confusion for a second, then noticed the kitten. He winced – everyone knew that the King had no great love of cats. "Remove it from my presence."
"Yes, Majesty," the man answered, though he did not move. After a few seconds Atemneferu's head swung around to look at him, his unnervingly red eyes fierce and almost – almost – disbelieving that the older man had not immediately ran to carry out his orders. It was a fierce impatience in his eyes, and a haughty arrogance, and when he spoke his voice matched the emotions perfectly.
"Well? What are you waiting for?" His tone was clipped and arrogant and Shimon winced at it.
"Well… Majesty… what am I to do with the creature?"
Atemneferu almost ordered the kitten killed, thrown into the Nile for some crocodile to play with, but there was his mother in the back of his head, worrying away at him and proclaiming, in something that sounded like outrage, that this kitten was still a sacred animal. The god-king ground his teeth, then looked back at the Father of the God. "Remove it. I care not beyond that." Shimon might still kill it, after all. It was, perhaps, unlikely but he could imagine it so.
"Ah… yes, sire."
Imperiously and most pointedly ignoring the little animal, Atemneferu swept past it, his indigo cloak of the lightest possible spun linen swirling behind him. The kitten glared after him in turn, at least until the older man reached down to pick it up. "Don't have much in the way of survival instinct, do you?" he'd muttered to the little thing. Curiously, it didn't scratch him, though he couldn't imagine that it was a pet, not as tattered as it appeared. It yowled at him, softly. Shimon had laughed softly and taken it out to the city, Thebes of the Thousand Gates, and left it in the streets. It could find its own way or it would die, as the rest of the cats did.
Only it appeared that wasn't enough for the kitten.
The next day it had somehow found its way into the palace again, and from there to the Throne Room and from the Throne Room to the Pharaoh. It yawned at him and washed its paw. Once again he had it taken away (and hopefully this time Shimon would kill it), and again the next day it found its way back.
This went on for far too long.
"You know," the King told the kitten somewhat conversationally after this had been going on for several weeks, watching it apparently attempt to stalk the wind as he spoke, "simply because you are beloved of a goddess is no reason to assume yourself the equal of a god."
It meowed at him, in just as conversational a way, and then returned to stalking the wind. And, for the first time, he did not order it taken from the palace. It always seemed to find its way back in any case, so perhaps the best feeling would be one of resignation. Atemneferu resigned himself.
The little kitten always seemed to be near after that – not always under his feet (if it had been he almost certainly would have gone back to throwing it out again) but close enough, and it would often find ways to be charming. Despite the fact that he did not like cats any more then he ever had, it was difficult for the Pharaoh to resist being charmed. And, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks to months and the little kitten began to grow into a cat, the animal began to grow on the pharaoh. He began talking to it, or looking for it when he walked and wondering where it was when he didn't see it. After a little while of that he began to stroke it occasionally when it wandered over – this animal, a tom cat, who had once scratched him.
Naturally these things had been noticed by the court, and they commented about it to each other softly – what a change! What could have caused it? What on earth? – but they were still shocked when, one day, they found the Pharaoh sitting on his throne of ivory and gold, absently stroking a little tom cat – a cat the color of the desert, with eyes like the summer sky – who was imperiously sprawled over Pharaoh's lap. The King had glanced up at his court and cocked a single eyebrow, which was enough to send everyone scurrying back to what they'd been doing.
"You're not to touch any of my birds," Pharaoh Atemneferu, the Horus, Lord of the Two Lands, Beloved of the Two Ladies, told the tom.
The animal looked at him for a long second, then silently ordered him to return to petting him and turned away. The King smiled and obeyed, shaking his head at himself all the while.
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