The marriage of Prince Zannanza Hattusili of Hittite and Princess Ankhesenamen of Egypt was widely and magnanimously celebrated, but Zannanza was certain that most, if not all, of his new subjects were opposed to the marriage. And he could hardly blame them. The idea of a foreigner, especially from a country that had so long been their enemy, marrying into the Hittite family and becoming emperor—or Tavananna at the very least—sickened the young prince. His presence as the new Egyptian Pharaoh was undoubtedly just as disgusting to the Egyptians. His new wife not excluded. Zannanza wondered what had possibly possessed her to request such a marriage in the first place.
It was nearly dark, the sun having set only minutes ago, with the last few rays of red-gold slowly dying out on the horizon. He did his very best not to perceive the blood red color as a bad omen. Soft footsteps outside of his chamber door made Zannanza look up from where he'd been surveying Thebes from the window. The outline of a woman, undoubtedly Zannanza's new wife, was projected against the sheer gold curtains and he pushed out of his lounging position to receive her properly. After an almost audible hesitation, the curtain parted and Ankhesenamen stepped nervously inside.
Zannanza watched her with careful curiosity as she slowly approached. At their wedding she carried herself with strength and confidence and he couldn't help but notice how radiantly beautiful she appeared in her royal garments. She was dressed more simply now, though still within the bounds of her station, and her face was free from makeup except for a thin line of charcoal that traced the outline of her eyes. Gone was the steadfast and immovable strength from before, but somehow Zannanza didn't mind. She looked timid, shy, and incredibly unsure of herself, and yet there she was; alone with him in his chambers. If nothing else, she was certainly brave.
"You're Highness Hattusili," Ankhesenamen said with a careful and beautiful bow. "I am grateful for your acquiescence to my selfish request. I wish you strength and compassion in your rule and ask that you treat my people with the dignity and respect you would grant unto your own."
Her voice was trembling slightly and Zannanza's gut twisted uncomfortably. She was frightened of him. He was sorely tempted to give the polite response required from such a diplomatic gesture and then dismiss her, but his promise to Yuuri was strong in his mind. It might be impossible to love this princess as boldly as he had declared to the Lady Ishtar but, at the very least, he could make it so that he and Princess Ankhesenamen were not enemies.
"There is no need to address me so formally, Princess," Zannanza said as he stood from the couch and slowly crossed the room to where Ankhesenamen stood with her head still bowed. "I wish for you to be yourself around me, if you would grant me the courtesy of doing the same."
Ankhesenamen was practically trembling as his shadow fell over her small, fragile body. "If that is your wish, Highness."
"Ankhesenamen," Zannanza said, his hand coming up to rest gently on her chin. She flinched and his brows drew together in a mixture of annoyance and concern. "Ankhesenamen." He repeated firmly, raising her chin so that their eyes would meet. "There is no reason to be afraid. I am your husband and, by treaty or no, I will honor and protect you to the best of my abilities. If there is only one person in this entire world who would have nothing to fear from me, it would be you."
Confusion filled Ankhesenamen golden brown eyes. "I . . . am grateful for your words highness."
"But?" Zannanza prompted and Ankhesenamen shook her head, clearly unwilling to continue. The prince bit back a sigh and decided to change tactics. "Do you play Senet, Princess?" He asked and Ankhesenamen blinked in surprise. "I'm rather fond of the game myself and there happens to be a board on the table. Would you be willing to play with me?"
Still surprised, and undoubtedly confused, Ankhesenamen slowly nodded. "I do play, Highness. And if it is your desire, I shall join you."
Pretending that she wasn't implying that his request was an order, Zannanza gave Ankhesenamen a bright smile and gently took her hand. "I'll have you know, I'm a rather fabulous player. I have lost to only one person in my entire life, and I doubt anyone would be able to beat him."
A small smile tugged on the princess's lips as she allowed herself to be guided to a chair. "Your Highness is very confident."
Zannanza gave her a cheeky grin as he took the chair across from her and began setting up the board. "Give me a reason not to be?" he said, and Ankhesenamen finally smiled.
"If you so wish it."
Kaliea: So I was re-reading Red River and I've decided that it totally sucks that Zannanza died because he's AWESOME. So I say screw history and Zannanza survives. Hurray for time-stream manipulation! Anyway, this is probably a one-shot but I might continue it so I'm leaving it 'unfinished' for now. If nothing else, I can always add other one-shots here and there to make a collection. We'll see :) Anyway, thanks for reading and, as always, don't forget to review! Ja for now!