Atem smiled widely at the bubbly brunette who was running across the courtyard towards him.
Her green eyes sparkling, Mana squealed, "PHARAOH!"
She came to a sudden halt in front of him and spun around, holding her staff to her chest. "I'm all right! Mahad just gave me the antidote!"
"Yes, and you're in quite a lot of trouble, young lady." The High Priest strode up behind her; despite his scolding tone, he was beaming.
"Thank you, Master!" Mana hugged Mahad tightly, causing him to laugh loudly. Atem chuckled and shook his head.
"It's great to see you back to normal, Mana," he said, squeezing his friend's bare shoulder affectionately.
He didn't miss the slight blush that colored Mana's tanned cheeks, and immediately, his mind flicked back to the memories of the first day of her delirium.
Isis watched from the corridor, smiling at the trio. Suddenly, she called out, "Mahad!"
He turned around, and then turned back to Atem and bowed. "Forgive me, my Pharaoh, but now I must leave you. I must go speak to Isis."
Atem waved his hand. "Don't worry, Mahad. You can go."
After the High Priest had left, the Pharaoh turned to speak to Mana, only to find her staring after her teacher.
They watched Mahad approach Isis and the two engage in earnest conversation. The Pharaoh couldn't see what Mana found so interesting in the conversation—he looked questioningly at her.
Mana only grinned and climbed up on the sand-colored wall which enclosed the pond in the courtyard. Pharaoh Atem smiled and began walking, with Mana skipping along behind him.
Abruptly, he stopped and turned. "Mana…"
He stopped, and looked down, wondering what on earth he was going to ask.
"Yes, Prince—oops, I mean, Pharaoh?" Mana asked, stepping down from the small wall.
Atem changed his mind, and decided to ask her about the potion. "If you don't mind my asking, what were you trying to make that day?"
To his surprise, Mana blushed. "A love potion."
His piercing violet eyes widening, the Pharaoh gaped at his friend momentarily. "A... what!?"
Mana blushed even harder and looked at her teacher and Isis, who were still deep in conversation.
Atem followed her line of sight until he saw Mahad. He slowly turned back to Mana and shook his head in shock.
Mana nodded. "And Isis."
Atem stared at her uncomprehendingly. "And… Isis?"
Mana paused. After a moment's thought, she replied, "Yes."
Atem shook his head again. "But… why? What were you hoping to do? Mana, you know what could've—"
Mana's emerald eyes grew large, and she shook her head vehemently. "Oh—no! I wasn't trying to make them fall in love or anything… well, I guess it wasn't really a love potion. I was just trying to get Priestess Isis and Master Mahad to admit—"
Raising his eyebrows, the Pharaoh asked, "Admit—?"
Mana looked away and replied with a simple, "Um, never mind."
Atem stared after the magician girl as she walked away. He watched Mana reach up and pluck a plum from a tree, remembering how he used to pick the ones she couldn't reach.
Sitting down on the pond's edge, he gazed at the petite young lady wonderingly. It was a while before he noticed that she had disappeared behind a certain tree and was nowhere in sight.
Slightly surprised, he stood up and surveyed the courtyard. "Mana?"
Mana leapt up behind him and wrapped him in her trademark flying embrace!
Atem, caught by surprised, lost his balance and fell flat on his back, with Mana landing on top of him.
The next thing he saw were her brilliant green eyes, only inches away from his own amethyst-colored ones. Their noses almost touching, the two simply stared at each other in complete shock.
Atem felt his face grow warm, and he could tell that Mana felt the same. The blush that had colored her cheeks before returned, stronger than ever.
After what seemed like years, Mana pushed herself up and off to the side, allowing Atem to rise. The two staggered to their feet, saying nothing.
Suddenly, Mana began to giggle uncontrollably! Atem merely stared at her as if she'd gone mad. He was about to say something when he was cut off by—
Mana glanced over her shoulder at Mahad—Isis had left, and he was beckoning for her to follow him.
The young lady skipped off, humming merrily to herself, her wand swinging at her side.
The Pharaoh smiled and called out a quick farewell before resuming his walk. Remembering that he had to meet Shimon in the library, he quickened his pace.
Meanwhile, he reflected on the strange turn of events. Until now, he had never questioned his relationship with Mana as anything but a friend-friend or brother-sister relationship.
But what now? He was sure he didn't misunderstand her strange sayings the other day… but then again, she had been delirious…
Shaking his head, he dismissed the memory. What was he thinking? Of course—she had been delirious, and she obviously hadn't known what she was saying.
"Pharaoh… I'll… I… always want to stay with you."
He pondered this statement. Of course, what was he thinking? It could easily have meant that she wanted to stay with him as a friend.
"Please don't leave me behind. I just want to be with you."
Yes, it was the same thing. It could all have meant that she loved and cared for him as a brother and friend.
But what about her last statement?
Shuddering, he recalled that un-Mana-like hiss---"He's mine."
Er, possessiveness? Yes, she probably didn't want to lose his friendship, that's all.
But a few moments ago...
A shiver ran down his spine and his heart skipped a beat as he recalled her face, only inches from his own… that dark blush that had spread across her face…
A strange feeling welled up inside the King of Egypt, and he glanced up at one of the many windows of the Palace. To his surprise, smoke was pouring out of one of the windows!
He started back towards the---
Laughing quietly in amusement, Atem stopped, turned, and touched his Millennium Puzzle gently before resuming his walk to the library.