Phew, I just baked some banana bread! Last chapter everybody! I must say that I have to thank you all for sticking with me this long. I deeply appreciate it! ~Atem
Through the months, Mana grew used to the hard, fulfilling life she now had. It was a lot of work, true, but she was happy to be by her lover's side, pushing along with her new friends. Atem was joyous too, convinced he had found his true love, and that Egypt was developing well. Together they fulfilled the duties expected of them by the people, and love grew deeper. After several years, an important question was to be asked by one, whoever should gain courage first.
Mana thought quietly to herself in her new, regal room. It was almost as large as the king's, and contained much silk and tapestry. The 18 year-old teen got up from her desk, and walked casually out into the elegant hall. One of her personal servants, Liena, was sweeping the floor. She bowed respectfully at her mistress.
"Good evening, miss. Can I be of help?"
"Um, where's the king?"
"My lord is in the dungeon, miss. He needs to check on the prisoners; shall I request he see you?" Liena said slowly, watching Mana. She fidgeted under the maid's stare.
"No, thank you. I'll, uh, be off to the garden now." She stated, trying to sound important and nonchalant. The servant smiled slightly, and got back to work. Mana jogged through the maze of hallways, doors, and stairs, now confidently knowing her way; most of the time. Finally reaching the bottom floor's garden opening, she panted and looked outside. Large, columned palm trees lined the pathway, and a spectacular, high fountain stood as an oasis in the middle of the enormous yard. Bunches of flowers and plants circled around it, and, in some spots, rare grass. Butterflies and insect life fluttered in the air, enjoying the atmosphere and the slight mist of water spraying from the fountain. Tall and lush trees were spread out over the area evenly, growing apples, blossoms, and vines. The air was hot, yes, but much cooler under the shade of the giant leaves. Thick bushes crowded their trunks, hiding prairie dog dens. Flowers and petals lined the stone pathways winding through the garden. Mana often came here, whenever she needed a break from the never-ending work needing to be fulfilled. This was a place where everyone in the palace was welcome to enter, and be happy. Indulge embrace
After ten minutes of sitting on a stone bench, looking up at the cloudless sky, she heard someone's footsteps. It was the now 20 year-old pharaoh, and he was smiling at her softly. A thin breeze swept through the vegetation, kicking up blossoms, which swirled in the air lazily, dancing around Mana and Atem. He walked over to her, sitting down on the bench. The two were quiet, sharing their presences, and after several minutes, he cleared his throat.
"Your maid told me you'd be here. She really likes you, you know. How are you feeling?"
"I'm doing great…real great. Lord Seto said you had a rough day, earlier. Is my little Temmie doin' better?" she added lightly. He chuckled, and rested his elbows on his knees, leaning forward.
"Yeah…all better. I just don't enjoy prosecuting criminals much. I feel angry and sorry for them at the same time; it gets confusing. Anyway, what are you doing in the garden? Need some alone time?"
"Sure, I think. After a while, assisting Seto and Mahado drives a person mad. I like Isis and Shadha, thought; they're the only quiet ones."
Atem laughed; a wonderful sound to Mana.
"Heh, you're right. But I love them all, even ol' annoying Seto. So…" he trailed off, and appeared to Mana to be sinking into his thoughts. The king did this quite often now, and many people wondered what could be gripping his mind so. After a minute or two, she prodded his chest, and he snapped out of it. She giggled, and rested her head on his shoulder, playing with his fingers.
"Atem, what is the matter? You're so nervous today."
"I…well…have to ask you something. We've been together for over two years, now…right?"
Mana frowned, not knowing where the conversation was going. She sat back up, looking at him warily.
"Stop that. Um, would you…would…" he trailed off again. Suddenly, a shout echoed down to them from a very high place in the palace. They simultaneously squinted up through the sun to see Priest Seto leaning down precariously out a window, yelling. Mana could barely make out his windswept words:
"…for heaven's sake, get it over with…! If you take so long I won't have time to make preparations!"
Atem paled, and started to sweat. His eyes flared, and the king stood abrasively.
"Go away! I mean it!" he retorted, and Mana pulled him back down. She heard Seto leave his post at the window, laughing. She looked into Atem's brazen crimson eyes; now thoroughly confused. He took her hands gently, and the teen grasped his.
"Atem, what is going on? You've puzzled me to the bone." She inquired, a smile tugging at her mouth. The pharaoh sighed, adjusted himself on the seat, and took a deep breath.
"Mana, over the months my love has grown. I didn't think it possible that I could ever have so many feeling for one person. For several weeks I've been pondering how to ask you this, and now, I will. Mana, will you be my wife?"
Silence lingered for a few moments. He peeked at the girl and saw his lover staring in shock, her hand covering her mouth. Atem closed his eye again, afraid of how she would react. A breeze rippled his hair, and the agonizing seconds dragged on. Suddenly, the nervous king felt Mana's soft, delicate hands on his cheeks. The loving, passionate kiss was the only answer the pharaoh needed.