I don't own Naruto nor do I make money from it.
Warnings: ancient egypt, AU, cursing, supernatural, ancient beliefs, OCs,
AN: I lumped both the final chapters together in this one chapter since the epilogue was rather short. I hope everyone enjoyed the story. Thank you very much for reading. Remember, to read my uncensored version, you will need to do so on either Y-gal or AFF. Thank you.
The Weight of the Heart
Naruto gasped, eyes shooting open. The clearing was empty as it usually was these days. Most of the souls living out their eternity in the Fields gave him a wide berth. It was obvious he was mourning and they respected that. They didn't know for whom he mourned but it was evident in the large black circles beneath his eyes along with the lack of joy in his smile.
Wiping at the tears dripping down his face, Naruto stood. His bones popped as he stretched his arms over his head. Naruto was sad despite his father having no disappointment in him. That should have been a comfort but Naruto continued to ache. His very soul felt stretched thin.
Why did it hurt so much? It was just a mission, even if failed it was just a mission. He wouldn't admit it to anyone, not even himself; he missed Itachi. The arrogant way he held himself, the cool intelligence that gleamed from black eyes; all of it drew Naruto like a moth to the flame. It only proved the fact that the moth was usually destroyed by the fire.
It felt as if an integral part of him was missing, a large piece of his soul. Would he ever recover from such an injury? Sektmet could heal injuries of the body but the soul was something altogether different.
Walking through the tree lined area, Naruto watched into infinity the souls that rested here. Their were warriors who spent their days sparring, children who played games, women and maidens who flirted and gossiped. Then, there were the kings, noble men and women who spent their time playing Senat or discussing politics.
Ever since Pharaoh Uchiha joined his ancestors in the fields, Naruto avoided the area designated to the kings. No one was forced to remain in one area but they tended to group much as they did in life. Children stayed with children, kings stayed with kings; it was the way of things and accepted.
"He will be arriving before Osiris within days."
Naruto closed his eyes as his father approached. He'd avoided his father as well, not able to look him in the eye. "I know."
"I have received permission for you to witness his trial, if you wish." Anubis's deep voice did little to quiet the quivering in his stomach at the thought of seeing Itachi again.
"I would not survive watching his heart devoured." Naruto spoke the words honestly. It was hard enough imagining what would happen, but to actually see it. There was no greater fear in his mind than to be a witness to the destruction of Itachi.
"Have you such little faith in him?"
"To measure out with Ma'at…there wasn't enough time. I failed."
Anubis sighed heavily before placing a clawed hand on his son's shoulder. "The measure of Ma'at isn't standard for every person. She would not be so cruel. I wonder how much you truly changed him, for he changed you. I will have a servant alert you to the proceedings in the event you change your mind."
Naruto continued to stare at nothing in particular, his own indecisive heart weighing heavy. He wondered how he would weigh if placed on the scales. Would he be devoured by Ammit?
These were questions that haunted him ever since his return to his position as guardian of the Fields of Hetep and Iaru. They haunted to the point that black smudges were found beneath his eyes; a testament to his lack of sleep.
"Forgive me, Itachi."
Sasuke rolled off the pleasure slave, his body sated but his mind continued to swirl with the events of the past. The woman attempted to curl towards him, sending waves of revulsion through him. "Get out before I hand you over to my guards."
The girl paled and gathered her clothes before padding silently from the room. Standing, Sasuke sneered at the disappearing back. Nothing seemed to make him happy. With both Itachi and Naruto gone, life seemed created of shades of gray.
He missed advising his brother, just as he missed teasing the golden haired slave. He was…lonely. The door creaked, causing a sad smile to pull across Sasuke's face. He wasn't the only one.
Intef placed a bowl of cool water on the table. The slave rarely spoke other than to answer questions posed to him. He was as silent as a ghost. Of all the servants in the palace, he was the most efficient.
Most stayed away from him due to the attention he'd drawn when Itachi had died. Even Sasuke had attempted to ignore the boy. Silence seemed to rule the land. Nothing but quiet since Madara's demise. Turning, Sasuke watched the servant go about his duties with practiced ease.
"Yes, my pharaoh?" Sasuke nearly winced at the title. He would never become used to being pharaoh. It felt wrong on so many levels.
"Tomorrow is the funeral of my brother."
"Yes, my pharaoh."
"I would like you to accompany me somewhere afterward." Intef appeared surprised at the request. Very seldom did the young pharaoh ask anything of him, but to be asked to accompany him. It was surprising.
"I shall do as you command."
"Hn." The grunt was the only acknowledgment given.
Once again, Sasuke was left to his thoughts. Washing the stickiness from his body, he laid upon the fresh linen Intef had placed on the dais. His heart ached with such ferocity, Sasuke wondered if he would ever be able to survive it. Perhaps his visit to the temple following his brother's funeral would ease his mind. Perhaps.
"Brother, why did you leave me?"
Naruto was once again staring into space. Time was relative in this world. A moment here could be ten lifetimes on earth if one wished it so. Naruto just wished to forget. He wanted to forget how wonderful it felt to be held in Itachi's arms. How his strength seemed bleed into him.
"Lord Naruto?" Sad blue eyes, dimmed by heartache turned to glance at the servant.
"The pharaoh Itachi has arrived and preparations are being conducted for his trial. You have been invited to attend." The servant looked on nervously as Naruto waved him away. It was a great honor to attend the trial of a human soul. He could not understand Naruto's lack of interest.
Naruto turned his eyes back to the children playing. He no longer joined them in their games. His skin had begun to take on an almost sallow glow. The dead look in his eyes frightened the children. And so, Naruto simply watched from the sidelines at joy that seemed to be just from his reach.
He thought on his father's words. He also thought of Itachi. Would seeing Itachi again be worth risking the chance of seeing him devoured? Bringing his knees to his chest, he continued to stare into the clearing. Did he not trust Itachi or was it he did not trust what Ma'at deemed pure and just?
For so many millennia he'd always had an idea in his head of what was righteous and what was wrong; yet now, he questioned it. Itachi sacrificed himself to prevent Naruto's tears.
Placing a hand on his chest, he breathed in deeply before exhaling. He made his choice, perhaps that was the reason for his unrest. To be torn inside was to be torn outside. Even if he went to see Itachi's destruction, he would give his life to see those beautiful dark eyes once more.
Naruto walked on silent feet through the massive corridors encompassing eternity. One could not quantify this world. Creeping along the wall, Naruto edged into the Hall of Truth behind some of the invited witnesses.
The hall itself was probably the most ornate room in creation. Scenes played out on the walls, jewels decorating the eyes and clothes of the carved gods. The walls themselves were of the purest gold, shining dimly in the torch light. To the north was the throne of Osiris, accompanied by smaller thrones for Isis and Horus. The floor at the center of the room was gold; depicting the image of Ma'at. Here Itachi's fate would be sealed.
He kept to the shadows, his heart suddenly light as Itachi came into his vision. Unlike a lot of pharaohs, Itachi wasn't dressed in his full regalia. He wore only a simple kilt, accessorized by a shining gold khopesh. His only adornment jewelry was a simple gold ornamented collar. To Naruto, that was all he needed. His regal stance and air was more than enough to present him as what he truly was, a pharaoh.
"Itachi…" The whispered words were unheard in the din of the room. It seemed the trial of the pharaoh Itachi was the cause of great talk amongst the gods.
"I bet three thousand gold that he measures out."
"I bet thirty thousand that he is devoured."
Naruto turned red eyes towards the two gamblers. A low snarl escaped his lips as the room went silent. All eyes turned to Naruto, including those of Itachi. Naruto's eyes however, remained on the two minor gods. Anger quaked along his body. He wanted to murder the two for even thinking of wagering on the outcome of this trial.
"A man's soul lies on the line; yet you two gamble as if it is nothing." Naruto could feel the lengthening of his nails and teeth. In his anger, the entire room faded away until all that was left was the two wagering fools.
"Have you no faith? Is his soul a game to you?" Naruto anger was reaching a peak.
"Forgive us, Lord. We were only trying to make this more interesting." The lesser deity whimpered before Naruto's wrath. His fear scented the room, causing several curious onlookers to wrinkle their noses in distaste.
"Pet." The word echoed through the room, freezing Naruto in mid motion. He turned to the owner of the voice.
"Itachi…" Naruto edged closer to his lover, the keeper of his heart. The guards kept them apart but Naruto came as close as he could. His eyes retained the red glow, though his fangs and claws receded.
"Pet, be nice and don't eat anyone." Itachi said, his low words sent a wave of excitement through the room.
"Did you see? The pharaoh calmed the monster with a word. Amazing. He must have the wisdom of the ancients."
"Such an amazing feat. I do hope the pharaoh measures."
Naruto hung his head at the not too subtly whispered comments. He could tell Itachi heard them as well; and was not pleased by what he heard. Naruto shook his head, not wanting to stir the room into any more of a tizzy than it already was.
"Silence." Anubis's voice echoed though the room, effectively silencing every bit of sound.
The sound of silence was nearly deafening. Naruto could feel his heart pounding loudly; he wondered if the room could hear it as well. His blood swooshed through his veins as he closed his eyes before stepping away from Itachi. Returning to his assigned place he watched as Itachi took on the first task presented to him.
With the name of each god present, Naruto felt his body gradually calm. He should have faith in Itachi. The weight of one's heart was judged of itself, not what others assume is truth and justice. In this trial, Itachi was being tried against himself. If he doubted, even for a moment his own worth; he would be struck down by the beast that hid so very close in anticipation of the possible meal.
Naruto sighed as Itachi completed the first task with no trouble. He wondered how much was Itachi's own knowledge and how much was the scrolls and incantations entombed with him? It was considered a test of knowledge but Naruto knew it to be nothing more than a chance for lesser gods to be recognized, for their existence to be justified.
Glancing towards the death king, Osiris, Naruto knew the man could see straight into the soul before him. He had once fallen in death but rose to take his place at the throne. Horus stood to his left and Isis to his right. They were the only beings in creation allowed into his confidence.
"Are you prepared to be weighed, Itachi, son of Uchiha, son of the goddess Isis who watched as your very being was crafted on the wheel of Khnum?" The words sent excitement through the crowds. This was the part most had attended to see. This would be the final part of the quest Naruto had undertaken at the behest of his father. This was the final moment of Itachi's life.
During mummification, the heart was the only organ left inside the body. Even the unknowing humans understood the importance of it. The heart was where the spiritual part of a being lay.
The room watched in hushed silence as Anubis stepped forward to take the feather of Ma'at from its resting place upon a pillar. He lowered the symbol of honesty and truth to the scale. The tinkling of the chains caused Naruto's heart to beat even faster, thumping similar to a stampede of wild oxen.
'Please. Please. Please.' The prayer was whispered in his mind as his eyes locked onto his father…and the scale.
The feather seemed to float over the dish of the scale but all present knew it held weight. The weight of the right but also compassion for the fallen. No one knew why some hearts fell heavy while other's were light. It was a mystery to even the gods. Ma'at seemed to have a will of its own, judging as it saw fit.
The room watched as Anubis now approached Itachi. The monstrous face of the god of embalming was surprisingly gentle as he placed a clawed hand upon Itachi's shoulder. "Be strong, my son has faith in you…as do I."
Both hands showed surprising gentleness as they disappeared into Itachi's chest. There was no pain for Itachi, for with his mortal body gone; only his spirit remained. The room watched as the hands were withdrawn cradling a beautiful pale blue light.
It was not the weight of the actual organ, but in essence; an orb that symbolized the soul as a whole. It was the very core of the being it belonged to. It was perhaps the most beautiful part of a human. It was what most gods lacked; Naruto being the only god possessing of one. A soul.
"I place this heart upon the scale. May Ma'at shine well on you so that you may pass through the gates and into the Fields of Hetep and Iaru." Anubis took a breath before placing Itachi's soul upon the scale.
For several moments, the scales rocked. They dipped high and low, an unheard of event. It was almost as if Ma'at was confused or indecisive. Such action from the scales disallowed any manipulation from Anubis. The fate of Itachi was in his own hands now.
Ma'at pulsed again and again, sending the scales rocking. It seemed like a lifetime but it could have been mere moments. For Naruto, time seemed to have stopped moving. His eyes remained riveted on the scale but gradually left to gaze at his Itachi. As much as he wanted to see the fate, he wanted to look upon his lover more.
Itachi's own eyes lifted from the flailing scale and sought out Naruto's tear filled blue. A small smile graced the face of the pharaoh as raised a hand. Placing the flat over the his sternum, he mouthed the words 'I love you.'
There was a burst of energy from the scale as it froze, only a slight tilting back and forth. The room held it's breath, knowing full well that this was it. The moment of truth.
Anubis reached up to adjust the scale but jerked his hand back as a shock of energy burst from the scale. It was refusing him the chance to adjust it in favor of Itachi. Despite the order of silence, the room erupted in whispers. That was unprecedented. The scale had never disallowed tampering; yet now it did.
Naruto could see the confusion on his father's face. The turning down at the corners of golden eyes caused Naruto to frown even more. Naruto turned his eyes back to Itachi who seemed to be ignoring the events that had the entire room watching with avid interest. Even Osiris wore a frown; his linen wrapped hand gripped the arm of his throne. Through all of this, Naruto focused on Itachi.
After so much excitement, the occupants of the room held their breath as the moment they had been waiting for arrived. The scales tilted one last time before balancing.
For several seconds, there was silence before the room erupted in a flurry of excitement. The demon pharaoh had balanced with Ma'at. The unthinkable had occurred. Naruto blinked in confusion before glancing at the scales. There before his eyes, the gleaming essence of Itachi balanced perfectly with the Ma'at.
"Silence!" Osiris was on his feet, annoyance gracing his features. Never in the history of his existence had the trial of a human soul drawn such a response. The room went silent at the dead king's shout.
Dark eyes zeroed in on Itachi as Osiris stepped down from his throne to approach the human cause of this excitement. "Interesting. So, it is you who tamed the destroyer? What is so special about you? You are a monster, the same as he yet…"
"He's no monster!" Naruto leaped over the guards, drawing gasps from the witnesses. This trial was destined to be talked about for many years to come.
Osiris held up his hand as the guards approached to take Naruto from his position before Itachi. "Destroyer, why does this human mean so much to you? You nearly died as a result of his existence. Explain."
"I would die a thousand times if it would keep him safe."
"Hmph…a romantic answer. So unlike you." Osiris tapped his fingers on his arm as if contemplating his next words. "It is my final decision who enters the Fields and who is devoured. Perhaps the scales are wrong. It is on my head if you soured the purity of the other souls with the darkness I can see in your heart."
"My King!" Naruto gasped out, earning a silencing look from Osiris.
"Silence, your input was not asked."
Naruto felt his hackles rise. Osiris might be the final judge, but Naruto would fight for Itachi's heart. If the scales measured, was it not enough for Osiris?
"Do not tell me you cannot see the darkness that is held back? He is not a pure soul." Osiris's eyes seemed to glow even brighter. It felt to Itachi as if his entire soul was being examined. "He will taint the Fields."
"No, you are wrong." Naruto ground out, his own eyes now crimson in color.
"No human is pure. To be human is to be tainted but to be human is also to be given a chance at redemption. Perhaps, I did not fulfill my duty as thoroughly as I would have wished but I would stake my existence on his deserving of rest." Naruto stood proud, his hands remained clenched at his sides but to all that witnessed this, he seemed to glow with a light that seemed more pure than anyone else in the room.
"I see…and if I said I would allow him to enter the Fields if you offered yourself to Ammit?" Osiris's face remained neutral, his eyes wagering Naruto's determination.
"I willingly offer up my existence for him." Itachi's eyes went wide, his cool demeanor dropped as he grasped at Naruto's arm.
"Are you insane?"
"I'm in love." The red in Naruto's eyes bled away, leaving only the sapphire blue. He smiled brightly, his love shining through to all.
"Agreed, your soul for his." Osiris waved a hand, the orb of Itachi's soul flew through the room sending the pharaoh flying across the ground at the shock of being reunited it.
"Great King!" shouted Anubis, his own body quaking with fear.
"Silence, Anubis. The deal has been made." Osiris waved his hand again, causing the circle on which they all stood to begin to open. All stepped back in fear of Ammit, the devourer of hearts.
A roar echoed from the abyss as the room shook with tremors caused by the beast. Unlike all others living in this dimension, Ammit was the only one of pure instinct. He did not think or reason; he only devoured.
Naruto swallowed as fear curled through his stomach. He could not deny that he was scared. To be devoured by Ammit was to cease to exist. His death would be the end but if it would save Itachi's own existence, then the price was well worth it.
Steam began to rise from the hole as a large clawed paw scratched deep grooves into the floor as it pulled its head up, gazing at the occupants of the room with small beady eyes. A large tooth filled muzzle opened causing the scent of death to permeate the room.
Ammit was created from the three most dangerous animals in Egypt. His head was that of a crocodile, his torso of a lion, and his rear of the hippopotamus. He was a monstrous creation meant for only one purpose.
Naruto stood before the creature, his face pale with fear. The monster continued to watch Naruto though he did not attack. He would never attack without an order from Osiris. Instead, he watched the blond god before him.
Itachi's blanked out for a moment as the ball of energy surged into him. It was not the delicate, almost reverent way Anubis removed the soul. It felt almost harsh. As consciousness returned, Itachi struggled to his feet, fighting the urge to gag at the smell of death in the air.
As his eyes focused, he saw Naruto, his Naruto, standing before a creature made of nightmares. He looked to Osiris, seeing the frowning face. Why would he willingly destroy one of his own over a human. Itachi slowly drew his khopesh. He would not give Naruto to this beast. If it was hungry he would make it work for its food.
"Ammit, Naruto has offered his heart in place of Pharaoh Itachi. Devour him." Osiris's words seemed strange. He was waiting for Naruto to change his mind? Itachi pushed the thoughts aside. Naruto would never do something. Once agreed, Naruto would follow through with his promises just because that was the way he was.
The large jaws opened, descending on Naruto when the downward swipe of the golden scimitar sliced at the muzzle. The beast reared back its head causing Naruto to be thrown to the ground, the breath knocked from his being. The angered screams of the beast sent the occupants of the room back even further.
Ammit pulled its massive body the remainder of the way into the room. Itachi watched the slow but graceful moves of the beast. A large paw rubbed at the small slice made into the rough skin of its snout before it turned angry eyes towards the khopesh wielding pharaoh.
"I'll destroy it before I let anyone harm you." growled Itachi as Naruto drew himself to his feet.
"You're mad. You'll be destroyed." Naruto eyes flickered desperately over the seemingly emotionless face. Itachi was ready to battle to the end in order to protect one of the few individuals whom he cared for.
"You're worth it." The smirk that broke across his face sent an arrow of warmth into Naruto.
"I can take care of myself." Naruto hissed, his eyes bleeding red.
"Not from where I was standing."
A low growling was the only response Itachi received, the sound making him smile.
"I love you, Naruto. I didn't realize it until I lay there bleeding at my death. My soul can not survive without you. If you gave yourself to the beast, I would have been destroy along side you. I traveled through the depths of the underworld just to see you again." Itachi lifted a hand to stroke along scarred cheeks.
"Shall we die together then?" smiled Naruto sadly.
Ammit opened its jaws, releasing a howl before lunging toward the two. Both prepared to fight when a shout froze all, even the movements of the great beast. "Halt."
Osiris lifted a hand to Ammit, causing the beast to lower its head in submission. Humbled, the monster slinked back towards its hole; the seal closing behind it. Naruto looked at the king of the dead with curiosity filled eyes. "Why?"
"I could not, in good conscious, allow his soul into the Fields without testing its worth." Osiris inclined his head as his impossibly dark eyes stared deeply into the two men before him. One a destroyer of the world; the other a dark soul barely redeemed.
"I have been…satisfied."
"You were willing to sacrifice my child to the beast to satisfy yourself?" Anubis was enraged, never before had he been so horrified by the King. His lips drew back to reveal sharp, white fangs.
"It was necessary for the safety of the souls entrusted to us. The end justifies the means." Osiris turned towards the two lovers.
"He is under your care now, Naruto. As guardian of the Fields, his soul is now entrusted to you. He is justified. The Swallowing Monster shall have no power over him." Osiris said nothing more. His dark eyes scanned the room before exiting followed by his wife and son.
Naruto slumped against Itachi, his body longing for the comfort of his embrace. His heart still raced from facing down the beast of nightmares, even more so than his own. Anubis approached both, his eyes still flashing with anger.
"It is fine, Father. If it proved Itachi's worth then I would have gladly died a thousand times." Naruto's words brought the smallest of smiles to his father's muzzle.
"You are too forgiving, Naruto. Osiris went too far but there is naught I can do. You completed your task. I am grateful you were able to save him." Anubis bowed to his son's accomplishment.
"Save me?" Itachi was frowning.
"I was sent to save your heart." Naruto smiled.
"Sent for me, hmm? I wonder if the Gods would approve of your techniques?" The purred words sent shivers through his body causing Naruto to blush; color flushed across his skin making Itachi smile in response.
"T-that wasn't what it was like…I mean…" Naruto stuttered as his face continued to grow red with embarrassment.
"Come." Anubis's gruff voice broke the spell encompassing the two.
Both followed him out of the room towards the gateway to the Fields.
"What do you see?" Sasuke and Intef stood before the oracle, her dead eyes staring not at them but into the world of the dead. She could see the spirits that roamed the earth as well as those having passed on.
"What do you wish, to know?" The leathery texture of her skin tightened and loosened as she spoke.
"My brother. I wish to know his fate."
"Interesting. The destroyer has found a mate in a fallen king. The world will forget his name but not his legacy." The old woman pointed her finger towards Sasuke. "You are tasked with it."
"With what?" Sasuke's frown went unseen.
"Your reign, unlike his before, will be prosperous."
"I don't want to know my fate. I want to know if you see my brother." Sasuke was becoming irritated with her riddles. The woman only smiled a toothless grin.
"He rests in the arms of his savior. Any more, you wish to see is beyond my sight. You will have to see it for yourself at your own demise." She cackled wildly as the priestesses escorted the young pharaoh and his servant from the hall.
"You should have asked of Naruto." Intef worried his lip between his teeth.
"I don't care about Naruto." Sasuke grated out.
"Yes, you do. You just won't admit it." Intef flinched as Sasuke whirled around to face the talkative slave.
"Hn, you are quite perceptive for a slave."
"My lord." Sasuke turned to see a young priestess race down the steps, her silken hair flowing behind her as she approached, prostrating herself before the king. "The oracle bid me give you this."
Sasuke looked into her outstretched hands; they cradled the blue crystalline necklace Naruto had always worn around his neck. Frowning, he picked up the simple leather thong. Looking into the depths of the crystal, he saw Itachi cradling a smiling Naruto in his arms. It was the first time in his life he'd ever seen his brother look at peace, no trace of madness remained in the eyes.
Sasuke fought the tears that threatened to spill from his eyes. Only in the privacy of his chambers had he allowed such weakness to show. "What did you see?"
The girl's stunning brown eyes looked curiously at her pharaoh, her speaking out of turn forgotten as Sasuke gazed deep into them. "I saw what I needed to see."
Sasuke smirked as he fastened the thong around his neck. He would make sure he returned this to Naruto upon his death. For now, he would live. He would rule his land as Itachi would have had he survived his injuries. Sasuke still missed his brother terribly, but at least now he had some comfort concerning him. Perhaps he would send for this priestess soon. His advisors had been calling for him to marry.
Turning, Sasuke pulled himself onto the horse awaiting him. Nodding to the priestess, he tugged the bridle turning the horse towards the palace, peace once again lightening his heart.
A small smile graced Intef's face. He too had seen the image of his master cradled in the arms of the pharaoh. He only hoped the blond haired man forgave him once they met again. Until that day, he would watch over Pharaoh Sasuke and his children.
Itachi lay with his head pillowed in Naruto's lap. The breeze blew gently through the lush tree filled garden. Never was there such a beautiful place as the Fields. Unlike the desert filled land of his birth, this land of the dead teamed with life. It seemed almost a contradiction.
Itachi murmured an unintelligible response. Time seemed to have no meaning here. After living a life where time never stopped, here was a relief. Nothing mattered other than the fact he was with Naruto. His only regret was that his brother had to remain living to pick up the pieces.
"I'm being summoned." Dark eyes blinked open. It was a rare event for Naruto to be summoned. Most days blended together.
"Alright." Itachi frowned. He was not allowed from the Fields. He hated he could not protect Naruto from whatever dangers he might face when he left the sacred land of the dead. He hated he could not accompany him as he performed duties for the Gods.
"I won't be gone long." Naruto smiled before leaving Itachi to his thoughts.
Itachi stood as Naruto left, the portion dedicated to the Kings and Queens was an area he rarely ventured to. He wasn't afraid of the dead pharaohs but he did fear seeing the sadness in his father's eyes. The old king knew. He knew what he'd made Itachi and what nearly happened as a result.
He did, however, visit his mother regularly. The kind woman had died several years before her husband. Though his parents' marriage was arranged by their fathers, the two felt something for each other. They were not unhappy. Perhaps it wasn't love, but it was at the very least, a friendship of sorts.
He wondered if she ever regretted not being allowed to have a soul stirring love such as he shared with Naruto. Perhaps it was better not to dwell on such thoughts. They would only seek to force his mind to his own past and his own shames.
"Mother." He bowed as he approached the woman.
"Itachi." she smiled prettily at her oldest child. "Would you join me for a game?"
Itachi seated himself before the Senat board. Like most nobles, his mother was a great lover of the game. It was she, not his father, who taught him the best strategies for defeating an opponent.
"Where is Naruto today?"
"He was called away."
"Time is different here." she mused moving a game piece.
"Yes." He glanced at her cautiously before moving his piece. What was she getting at?
"How long do you suppose you have been in this world?"
He frowned, his mind thought back. It seemed like mere weeks ago that he'd battled Ammit for the right of his soul to live in rest but…he was unsure. Being with Naruto, he didn't measure time. "I'm…not sure."
She smiled, delicate hands placing her final piece to insure her win. "We will have a new arrival today."
"Mother, we have new arrivals every day."
"Hmm, yes but this one is special. I'll have to greet him. Be nice to him for me, Itachi." The queen stood, smoothed out her pristine pleated dress and walked slowly from the covered tent.
Itachi's eyes widened. Sasuke! Though he felt sadness well up in his chest at the thought of Sasuke's death, he could not deny he was happy at the thought of seeing him. He was unsure if his brother felt the same.
Following his mother, he watched as a light grew into a doorway. Naruto stepped through, nursing a bruised cheek. Itachi watched as the skin began to heal before his eyes. "Naruto, what happened?"
"Bastard." he grumbled before stepping aside.
An elderly man stepped through, shimmering for a moment before he began to age backward. The stooped frame gradually straightened until Sasuke in his prime stood before them once more. Their mother rushed to him, smothering him with hugs and kisses, very much out of character for a queen.
"Mother…" grumbled the young man.
"Sasuke." Itachi stood staring. He'd been an old man. He'd lived long. Shaking his head, he realized just how long he'd been dead, at least fifty years.
"Itachi." Sasuke stared at his brother before rushing to him, much like he'd done in their youth.
"Why did you leave me?" cried the younger, almost as if the last fifty years or so never happened.
"It felt right."
Naruto smiled on the two brothers. Seeing them together felt right. He had one more duty before he could curl up beside Itachi again. This one was a request to his father.
Stepping away from the two brothers, he returned through the gateway. Joining his father in the ornate chamber he'd not stepped foot in for over fifty years. Nothing had changed but it felt different.
"This human is very lucky indeed to have you to escort him to the afterlife." Anubis ran a clawed hand over the blue crystal Sasuke had placed around Naruto's neck only minutes before he was escorted to the Fields. "I'm surprised you allowed that foolish young king to keep such a rare gift."
Naruto smiled a bit deviously. He'd known Sasuke would need it and would eventually return the stone when its use was no longer necessary. "Why, Father?"
Anubis shook his massive head, choosing to keep his speculations to himself. "You are too kind for your own good."
"A small measure of comfort to ease the years by."
Chuckling, the great god waved his hand over the portal. Lights flared multicolored sparkles of magic. Naruto needed no prompting this time. Stepping through the doorway, he kept his body hidden from the priests. This was a solitary mission.
Not much of the city had changed. The bazaar was filled with goods. Men and women shouted while children darted among the stalls. As much as Naruto would have liked to joined the excitement, he had other duties that must be finished; both a sad and happy duty.
A new pharaoh had been named. The most powerful man in this desert world sat helpless at the bedside of a servant, watching him walk the edge between the now and the afterlife. Naruto kept to the shadows, watching as this lowly servant was treated like a king, the royal family at his side. It was a far cry from the scarred, beaten, and cowered boy he'd met so many years ago.
It seemed to Naruto, Intef had found a place at Sasuke's side; serving both the bastard and his children. It made him happy. It also made him sad in his duty. Stepping from the shadows, he made himself visible to only Intef. "Your life was a good one?"
"Master!" gasped out the old servant, dark brown eyes nearly blind with age were able to see Naruto with crystal clarity.
"Intef? Are you alright, Intef?" The pharaoh sat more alert at the words of his childhood servant, who was more a friend than a servant.
"Naruto is here. My master is here." Joyful tears ran down his face as he reached for the blond man.
The rest of the room's occupants went silent. They knew the stories. Both their father and Intef had told them many times of the great pharaoh Itachi and his slave Naruto. They were told how Naruto devoured the soul of evil Madara. The story was almost more fantasy than reality to them, who had not been there to witness the great battle.
Naruto sat gently on the bedside, his hand taking Intef's extended one. It looked like Intef's life had been a good one to have the love of so many people. "Would you like to come with me, Intef?"
"Master…do you…forgive me?" Tears poured from the old servants eyes.
"I forgave you long ago. Carry that burden no longer." Naruto placed a hand over Intef's heart. He felt the soul release from the mortal body. He heard the cries of those who loved Intef and paused, the soul shimmering in his hand.
"Don't cry, he goes to serve me but you will be reunited with him upon your own deaths." Naruto lifted the veil, appearing before the children of Sasuke.
"Who are you?" The new pharaoh stood, ready to call for the guards.
"Don't ask questions for what you already know the answer." grinned Naruto, his eyes flashing to reveal a bit of the beast inside.
"Father's pendant!" The woman behind pointed a finger at Naruto chest.
"Actually my pendant, I allowed Sasuke to keep in hopes that his burden would be lessened. I was no prepared for the duty I was sent to perform. Your father is well and with his family in the Fields. May your lives prosper." Naruto bowed to his lover's nieces and nephews before fading into the darkness of the limbo Intef would have to transverse, a trial to prove his worth. Naruto would stay by his side. He would make sure he made it to the fields.
Itachi blinked awake at a gentle touch on his shoulder. "Naruto?"
Naruto chuckled at the sleepy look in his eyes. "Yes."
"How long were you gone?" Itachi frowned, a look of unhappiness on his face.
"Not long. I was escorting Intef to the Fields. Did you enjoy seeing your brother again?" Naruto settled next to Itachi on the linen dais.
"It seems like mere weeks since I saw him last. I don't like this feeling." Itachi frowned at the memory of seeing Sasuke step through the gateway, an old man. It left him…disconcerted at so much time having passed in the blink of an eye.
"Life is fleeting. I'm sure it felt the same for Sasuke. We have eternity now." Naruto snickered at the touch of Itachi's lips.
"Is that long enough?"
He sputtered at the question. What a thing to say. 'Is that long enough?' "And Sasuke calls me the idiot."
Time passed, gods were forgotten. Such is the way of things. Naruto and Itachi's story was lost to the ages, nothing but a myth, skewed beyond recognition until the day an ancient and surprisingly undisturbed tomb was discovered.
In a small, unexcavated area of the Valley of the Kings, a series of archeologists uncovered what looked to be the entrance to a tomb, possibly that of a minor king of the early Middle Kingdom. Dust flew up as the intricate stone door was carefully pried open to reveal the inside.
Lights shown inside the tomb as excavators looked on in awe. The scenes painted on the walls were something out of a fantasy, unlike anything they had ever witnessed. The walls showed the battle in which the nine tailed beast revealed himself to the world. The riches found in the chamber in no way outshined the amazing story told on the ancient papyrus, perfectly preserved.
Room after room was filled with wealth. It was a dream find, even greater than that of Tutankhamen. The tomb of the forgotten pharaoh Itachi. The stories told on the walls and in the scrolls would go down as some of the greatest tales of mythology and of one of the most unlikely love stories in history.