dedication: to all the incredible Senshi/Shitennou writers who make me sob in envy and joy with their… utter incredibleness. this is for you, please accept my love?
notes: agh, I've become a dubstep zombie. Chloe, help!
notes2: I'm sort of a history junkie. this should be five chapters. no more, no less. hi.
chapter title: the lighthouse
summary: You, you, you, you. Four could have beens, and one that was. — Senshi/Shitennou.
The heat that rose from the stones that day was unbelievable. The sun had only barely risen, and already it was promising to be one of the hottest days of the year so far. The putrid smell of rotting fecal matter and sea-water made the eyes water and the nose flinch. The furnace glare of noon hung just out of reach, out of sight but threatening, and the entire populous hawked their wares in the marketplace before it got too hot to do anything more than cling to the shade underneath green-and-white striped awnings and try not to die.
Alexandria was cooking in its own sweat and blood, and no one had the time or the will to pay attention to anyone else. For one girl, this was a very good thing.
Mié flashed down the cobbled stone, a streak of girl flesh a little more lively than the sand-coloured dust of the backdrop. Gold hair fanned out in tendrils behind her as she ran, a sheet of sunshine held up by a thick red thread. She dodged underneath a squawking line of water fowl, nose wrinkled up, and checked to see that her quarry remained uncrushed.
She clutched the package to her chest. Her Lady had requested olive bread from the market—olives, really, what was Selene thinking? Olives were not easy to come by, even in the Royal kitchens!—and had sent her oldest friend on a mission to find it.
This request, of course, Mié had had vehemently refused. It was utterly improper.
But Selene had been determined. The Pharaoh's daughter had turned watery blue eyes and dangerously powerful charm on Mié, tears down her cheeks with her lip stuck out in the most pathetic pout anyone had ever seen.
Mié was ashamed to say she crumbled like a honey cake.
After all, if she hadn't, Selene would have turned to one of the others. This was not a question because when it came down to food, her princess was notoriously greedy. Amisi was far too shy to venture outdoors on her own, Mkit preferred the kitchens, and Oshairana would have set fire to every man who looked at her the wrong way.
Not a promising outlook.
And so that was why Mié was dashing through the cobbled Alexandrian streets in the middle of the morning, dust and spattered mud clogging up her skin, sweat sticking her hair to her forehead. She would have to bathe when she got back to the palace to get the stink of manure and marketplace out of her hair.
For a moment, Mié was vaguely annoyed.
But it was hard to stay at all bothered with the princess Selene, especially when Mié considered all the possible ways in which she could exploit this new debt. There had been that beautiful new white stallion that the Romans had brought with them last trip…
And Mié did so love beautiful things.
She was so consumed with her thoughts that she didn't even realize her sandal had caught on the edge between stones and that she was falling until she was about to hit the ground.
The bread went out of her arms as the air left her lungs. Mié tumbled straight into the arms of a strange man, and didn't even have time to register what was properly going on. The sky and earth inverted, she shrieked and clung to the solid pillar of flesh.
"Are you quite alright?" he asked, and set her down.
Mié ignored him completely. It was a slight, but she did not have time for manners—she had to find the bread—and she dropped to her knees. Dirt crusted and rubbed into her favourite linen shift—Isis, why—
"Is this what you're looking for?" he asked again. His tone was a shade more frigid. He proffered something.
And there it was. The stupid olive bread that Selene was so desperate for, it was in his hands and he was getting it dirty and Mié was just going to kill him. She raised her head, to smile at him with her teeth sharp and shining in the sunlight, exactly like the lighthouse that glittered just above the ocean's diamond surface.
For a very short moment, she was stunned frozen by his colouring. Such pale hair and eyes were not often seen in Alexandria.
This did not make her any more sensitive to his plight. She reached for the bread.
"I'll have that back, thank you," she murmured, smile still fixed upon her lips. Gold as the sun shone across the desert, her hair spilled across her shoulder. She plucked the salt-sweet loaf from his hands, and tucked it securely under her arm. "Now, if you'll excuse me—"
"Have we met before?" he asked. He sounded so serious that Mié tipped her head back to take another look at him.
But no, she would have remembered hair like that. Mié was sure of it. She shook her head, slow and graceful.
"No, I don't think so."
He stared down at her. The sun glinted off the kohl lined darkly around her eyes. He was looking for something in her face, but Mié had nothing left inside of her—she did not know this man, and did not want to know him. Her back was up, and she fought away shivers that had no place in such a hot day.
He studied her for another moment.
Mié didn't give an inch.
"OI, KHENTI! MHOTEP'S WONDERING WHERE YOU GOT TO! WE GOT FISHIN' TO DO! YOU ALIVE? KHENTI—?"
The call came from far off down near the docks, and the man looked around, annoyed. "SHUT IT, NSU."
He glared that way for only a second, then shook his head and returned his attention to Mié. She smiled at him, but it was not kind. "Khenti? Leader?"
He was wary. Good.
"I'll be sure to pass your name along to the royal family," Mié said, voice smooth as the crest of a sand dune after a wind storm, "as an explanation for why I was late. That should be just fine, no?"
She thought he was grinding his teeth.
There was something strangely satisfying about it.
Mié readjusted the bread under her arm. There was no sense in worrying about it now—a little dirt never hurt anyone, and Selene would be perfectly happy with what she could get her hands on when her mother wasn't looking. Without another word, she turned, and began to walk away.
Over her shoulder, she said "Mié. I'm Mié."
She giggled about the dumbstruck look on his face for the rest of the walk home.
Two weeks later, she would be told about a storm out at sea that had taken the lives of all the fishermen out on the water. She knew, without needing to be told, that he and his whole crew had drowned.
Something inside of her clicked shut, locked and closed, waiting for another lifetime.
Mié resolved not to think of it any longer.
notes3: oh my god, I am so scared right now.
notes4: please do not Favourite/Alert without leaving a review!