Hey Lovelies, I am so sorry for vanishing on you. I've had an insane couple of weeks: illness, twenty-firsts, travelling, a family reunion and the initial exam kept me away on seemingly every Friday as well as busy for the whole day of Friday. However! I am here this week!
Chapter 11: Unifications
"The wives are pleased," Atemu snorted, taking another swig.
"I expect so," Yugi answered absently, sitting at her desk.
Huffing, sighing, Atemu held out his palm to make the delivery that was the sole purpose of his very brief visit. Yugi regarded the ring briefly in the caramel cradle of the man's palm and took it, slipped it on, without any greater inspection than that. It didn't interest her, didn't please her, not with Atemu looking down on her so. She knew however that it was the same ring as Qazzadara's primary wife: Ayesha. Lady Anzu hadn't wanted this ring, from a heathen wedding as she saw it, and in her own gentle way had asked for one Atemu had had made for her.
"I'll be sending the crown jewels over," he informed, "I don't care how you have them reset."
Yugi had enough jewellery, plenty of precious stones too from Qazzadar she planned to have set in new ornaments with a greater allowance eventually provided, but there was a kind of appreciated speciality in the traditional jewels.
She nodded, took a sip.
"Anything else Majesty?" She supposed cradling her own drink.
"No, I don't think so," Atemu sighed before chortling; "unless I suppose you'd like to invite Satan to the wedding upon your side?"
"No I should think he'll be busy," Yugi shot back languidly. "There is one thing though."
"Hmm?" Came the curt sound.
"If it's all the same with you I'd rather keep my current rooms."
She had no interest in spreading to the expansive quarters of the Queen. It wasn't a matter of Anzu's ghost however. Truthfully she did not like the idea of reminding herself that Atemu was occupying the room where Qazzadara had brushed her hair from her temples and put Yugi's head in his lap.
"I'd rather the same myself," Atemu revealed quietly. "I still can't imagine you there."
"You won't have to," Yugi dismissed, setting down her drink and turning back over her book.
The wedding passed with little incident. Yugi, apparently utterly converted to the polytheism of the East regarded the whole ceremony with a kind of solemn traditionalism mirrored more by Atemu's family than himself. His last wedding, though in private, Atemu had enjoyed as a ceremony under what he considered his new God. Though this one was more in keeping with his native stripe it…
They made very little eye contact during the process. Yugi appeared at worst to be making vows to the shaman and at best to be making them off to Atemu's brothers smiling to the Gem Faher in the front row. Frankly Atemu preferred when Yugi made tender, affectionate, eye contact with Mahado, their triumphant guest, but the sensation of being passed right through began to bother him.
Towards the end of the morning, hands tied, Yugi began to wind a little tighter at the impending, inevitable, close to proceedings. The climatic, finalizing, wedding kiss was something of the last century, imported, but as an affectionate culture the East had quite taken to the gesture.
Atemu for his part didn't like the claustrophobic feel of Yugi's hand limp and recoiling against his as he squeezed the two smallest fingers reflexively. The last chant began, Yugi glanced to the pews, to Kisara, Mana'jet and Mahado doubtless, but Atemu took the moment to actually, however briefly, consider the creature before him.
Today was a day where with her face flexing between darkened moments of sombre maturity and lighter flutters of smiling softness Yugi was not ugly. Atemu had never gotten much chance to see Anzu comfortable in the dress of his homeland but Yugi appeared as if she'd always worn it. She was comfortable with it, with everything, with that grace and that elegant prideful strength Europe abhorred and the East adored. Yugi smiled briefly at something or someone over Atemu's shoulder and lips parting upward a tiny flicker of teeth spied into view.
Atemu tilted his head, found something in how the light scrapped the cheekbone and gaze flickering, distracted by the movement, Yugi appeared almost startled to find Atemu looking her over. Her whole face tightened out of that milky freshness. Little fish swam up and down Atemu's back in the oddest, most childish, inclination that struck him at once.
Yugi had always, luckily, been someone else's. Atemu had never wanted her but she was confessedly handsome in her own perfectly natural, perfectly diabolical and misleading way. Atemu knew, only just, what the briefest touch from the witch felt like and he was struck by a curiosity.
The chant finished Yugi looked still to be dissecting his face and given the commanding cue from the shaman Atemu took the opportunity to see was kissing her was like.
Yugi turned steely, sucked in and straight up, with her hands coiled as little fists on Atemu's chest. Atemu's arm secured, fastened, round her waist and his fingers scrapping through thick clean hair helped press the smaller, narrower, body into his. Everything was narrower, smaller and harder than Anzu had been, utterly unyielding, but the smell was sweet and the lips were soft as Atemu bruised down against her almost passionately.
It was brief, violently churned his stomach with a sudden unaccustomed and improper heat, and before Atemu could savour it the kiss was over. It would've, might've, been longer if Yugi hadn't forced him back viciously. A kind of affronted expression passed over the pale face, like a shadow, and momentarily Atemu suspected Yugi would hit him because she quite evidently wanted to.
Yugi ignored Atemu for the remainder of the luscious festivities. The distance the witch set down between them was rigorous and carried with it an assumed disgust. Yugi repelled from his touch, his passing, his voice, but skilled a courtier as she was the little witch could plant herself purposefully across the grand hall without anyone noticing she'd come no closer to Atemu than five feet all evening.
Yugi danced with Seth, with Falker, and at least three times with Mahado. Seth made her laugh but after lifting her off her feet and swinging her round when Mahado lowered the Gem Faher back to her feet Yugi's arms sunk tenderly, almost desperately, round his shoulders to cleave into the man. Atemu turned his mouth into his palm and, disgusted slowly in himself, was tempted. He supposed it shouldn't surprise him: of course witches tasted good.
Timaeus, bowing thrice and asking once, apparently secured a dance of his own with the Sultana. Yugi laughed gently at him and very prim let Timaeus try stiffly to swing her round. The Ryussian ambassador however, like with so many finer things, had no feet for dancing and appeared constantly at odds with his toes. Yugi led.
Atemu however had no shortage of good conversation of sincere congratulations from where he was watching. His kith and kin were very pleased, very pleased indeed, with the turn of events and he had so many kisses on his cheek, so many children put dotingly in his lap for approval that he realized they'd seemingly forgiven him for his evident conversion away from tradition.
A little past midnight they were stripped down and put into the blessed wedding bed.
Yugi's hands folded in her lap, eyes ahead, but the exhaustion and the tightness stretched all along her jaw showed till eventually Atemu's winking brothers and whispering sisters filed out.
The witch sighed, eyes closing briefly, and slipping her legs out brushed hair from her face to traipse towards the still burning fire.
"I'll leave in a little while," Yugi answered, slumping into the fireside seat resting her head back.
Her eyes closed and…
Sighing, shaking his own head, Atemu lay back down with his hands behind his head.
"Do what you like."
When Atemu rolled over in the middle of the night, arm hanging gently over the cusp of the mattress, he spotted Yugi curled asleep in the chair by the fire with her head on the arm rest looking tiny and pale and soft.
When Atemu woke in the morning however blinking groggily at the overarching panels of the four poster she was gone.
He tutted and wasn't quite sure why he wasn't pleased. He ached though, not for the witch but… Anzu had this very gentle way of breathing and waking. She used to kiss the bridge of his nose in the morning as he struggled to consciousness. She had the softest hands. He missed the warmth of another body snug next to his, he missed knowing she was breathing in the night…
He closed his eyes as his throat began to do the same.
Twisting to the empty bedside he jolted.
On the table sat his dagger, unsheathed, and on the bed, where the blankets had been tugged back, a little patch of blood smeared on the linen.
Heart settling back Atemu slumped into the pillows again. Damn wily witch had taken it upon herself to fake the evidence of consummation. It was insurance of sorts, usefulness of another and nose in the pillows Atemu wondered how the little wasp had managed it while he slept. He couldn't somehow imagine Yugi flinching as she dragged the blade along her own skin. It seemed too weak for the creature.
It was the closest they ever came to a proper moment of privacy with each other. In the morning after, at breakfast, Atemu was not sure if he would adjust to the new station of Yugi beside him. As Yugi seemed prepared to stand, to flitter off neglecting much of the meal, Atemu caught her nearest hand and tugging turned the palm up to his inspection. Yugi yanked it back but Atemu had seen enough to know there was no cut in the skin.
"The other hand then?" He accused lazily.
"I'm subtler than that," she snorted.
He frowned, knew not quite what that meant but too intrigued for his own tastes made a point of looking away and not thinking about it. Though images considering where the witch had dragged the blade upon herself in the dark night did occur…
What settled next over the kingdom was a dreadful kind of peacefulness which Atemu endured uncomfortably. The Lesser Council were settled, with that their husbands in the Greater Council easy going, and there was a flourishing refreshed mood across the next month which Atemu abhorred.
Under a heathen to two religions his homeland was peaceful. It was perhaps not as irritating to Atemu as a whole but the details of it when broken down all carried a little pincer. No man likes to have upon him something he did not want to begin with despite, or especially because, everyone else's insistence he ought to enjoy it, because it seemed just his size and flattering. Worse, worse… Anzu...his mind stuttered over messily when she dredged up inside it like a corpse rising from the soil, she…
She was so European. She was so Western. She appealed to his re-education, his conversion, his new manners and practices. She was soft, an image of European gentleness and Madonna virtues. Never outspoken, never rough, never blunt or too obvious or too forward or coarse or acidic or…
Yugi, long enamoured in the eyes of Atemu's clan, proved to be such a traditionalist. The jewels were reset back to how they had been styled during the time of Atemu's mother and somehow the foreign, milky, form of the witch had the shoulders to wear them well.
Without Anzu's mediation or the burden of having to service Atemu directly the Gem-Faher, now Sultana, took to the old services and festivities with a kind of vicious zeal. They danced louder, feasted longer, worked harder and every morning after an enforced communal bath (which the Sultana expected the visiting ladies and carriers to consort in) there were services in the temple. Not the grand, sombre, ones of Christian Europe either. No it was all the pagan singing, clapping, chanting, burning and play preforming of Atemu's heathen childhood bought back to fully realized detail for the Gem-Faher's contentment.
Anzu was always in his heart as an embodiment of what Atemu had come to see as the enshrined goal of the gentler sex. Like some idol of the Virgin Mother Anzu took to what Europeans believed the lesser sex should be, what was natural to them; she wrote sonnets, she stayed far aside from business, tried to run a peaceful household, yielded, sewed… to Atemu's memory her good qualities came as a mixture of examples and real qualities but the point remained.
Yugi rode often, took picnics and smokes to follow after the hunting parties or the usual gladiatorial displays that were contrast to the knightly jousting of Europe. She invested personal fortune in endeavours, never asked permission and didn't fear retribution. She was opinionated and brazen about it. She made ers shoulders stronger, gave orders and demanded the respect of men rather than the adoration more natural between the sexes. Yugi had the boldness very natural to the subordinate sex of Atemu's homeland. It was perhaps why the natives, Atemu's people, took to her despite her being no one of any birth.
Worse still was the attempted façade of normalcy they tried to perpetuate between each other for the sake of appearances. Known hatred or not the appearance of an unhappy, vicious, marriage was not becoming to any man or wife.
They had breakfasts together perhaps weekly because they weren't meals that tended to linger. Yugi planned to arrive a little wet from the baths just as the sun was grey because it was as late as Atemu could eat before he had to leave for meetings.
Yugi's focus tended to be the windows. She never really seemed to eat anything of any real merit. Atemu tried, lazily, to focus on the meal. It was a process thing for him, something he had to do and something he had to get through. He needed to eat and if that kept him from conversation Atemu would become very diligent about his breakfast.
It was tenuous, bitter, on the nights Yugi made some pretence of supposedly coming to Atemu's rooms to copulate.
On the first occasion Yugi wore two dressing gowns, one grey and plain underneath peeking its collar out from under the ebbing blue and gold embroidered second layer, as if the very idea of stripping down made her feel disastrously naked already.
Atemu was too tired for it.
"Have the bed," he ordered, scrapping up a recently shipped bible from Britton.
It was almost jolting to be denied so abruptly. Atemu had conversed with kings who pushed him aside more genteelly.
"Don't be ridiculous," he scathed.
"I'll take the daybed," Yugi more informed rather than suggested, folding the dressing gowns tighter.
"It's not cursed, yet, you can sleep there for a night without injury."
"If I do," she drawled, "it's going to smell like me tomorrow. Would you like that?"
Atemu recoiled gently torn between insult and genuine disgust, his chest brazenly exposed compared to the tucked up tiny figure of the Gem-Faher resting on her bare toes in the doorway.
"I didn't think so." Yugi murmured, joylessly victorious.
Sighing, momentarily defeated, Atemu slumped onto the bed as traipsing by him mindlessly Yugi found a seat reclining near the window. She was always near windows it seemed, in rays of the dawn or the moon she stationed herself sighing off as if the tiny witch was waiting for some better lord husband to return home.
"I have to ask you, though I don't like to," Yugi prefaced a moment of uncomfortable silence later as Atemu scathed at the arch of the ceiling above him. "Do you know what mischief Lord Timaeus is up to?"
"Hmm? Timaeus?" Atemu grunted pushing up onto his elbows.
"He's been peculiar," Yugi slipped one hidden leg over the other under the folds. "He asked me yesterday if I would give my blessings when he married."
"Married? To whom?"
"I don't know," she sighed tightly, "he dismissed it, told me he wasn't sure yet. Has he asked after anyone?"
"No," Atemu sat himself almost a bit straighter suspiciously.
"Hmm," Yugi shuffled down across the room, toes rolling over each other. "I suspect then he's mad for someone he shouldn't be. One of your cousins maybe…?"
"Perhaps it would be a good thing," he mumbled.
Yugi pinched her lips together, frowned, and turning Atemu over in her glance seemed confused before it all fell back to a kind of pitying foreignness the Sultan didn't appreciate.
"What?" Atemu snapped refusing to let it dissipate without notice.
"Nothing," Yugi cut stubbornly, twisting onto her side.
Groaning Atemu fell back into the bed bitterly.
It was order they established but not necessarily a pleasant one. In the ensuing six months after Anzu's… Atemu…
Left alone Atemu found his mind wandered off to misery and he had hoped an excuse to screech at Yugi, to loathe her, would distract but the witch took, at odd intervals, to making those pitying eyes Atemu felt miniscule under. It did nothing to help rebuild his sense of purpose, his sense of honour, and the sight he turned to, every few days, of Yugi gazing away scratched irritably.
Queerly Timaeus had taken to asking Yugi to dance very frequently. Though from Atemu's vantage Timaeus never seemed to get very far in luring the Sultana into conversation of any great length.
The sexes mingled by rather strict regulations here families were notoriously informal but a man of no relation settling himself too close or too often with someone of the opposing sex was frowned upon by all male kin of the individual girl or woman.
Atemu himself enjoyed Timaeus' witty recollections about battlefields and politics but anything finer, anything more delicate, and the Ryussian was useless.
Timaeus was harmless however wether he danced with Atemu's bitter little wife most nights or not. He was mad for some pretty thing here, probably trying to barter someone who'd argue in his favour by endearing himself to the Queen. That was Atemu's suspicion.
Some of the others…
Atemu frowned, resting his cheek into his knuckles and regarded the angle of the latest conversation Yugi was engaging in with another ambassador. The French seemed to have taken a liking to her sharp tongue and proud posture, the Portuguese and Spaniards even more feverishly.
Atemu would admit there was something quite entrancing about the tiny, white as china, Queen among the savages with her mystical control upon the order of court and her effortless dialectic mastery. He could see why the Europeans would cleave to Yugi as a port of high society in a sea of strange customs. The witch was a good cultural bridge. Anzu had charmed the ambassadors in her own way; humble, a right virgin goddess, with her tiny feet and her sweet voice she rather embodied patience, charity, and grace. Such…such noble things however were only so amusing. Yugi's snips, her fearlessness to explain what she thought and her stubbornness to relent from her opinion, were however consistently entertaining to the Europeans.
Atemu didn't think he minded. He shouldn't of. If the witch spread her cold, nasty, legs for someone else Atemu would have an excuse to eradicate her. Though he found that anger, hatred, lust and pleasure had been mostly squashed out him lately to make room for quiet, underlying, grief.
They had an array of beautiful creatures at court this evening. Atemu attempted to focus on them but… he sighed very tightly and felt small. They were never going to be her. The way she lay against him those nights in the inn by the docks, wooing her first among the Brits, her father slapping his back, the tiny strange white-burnt baby she'd given him out of complete love the…
Atemu tried to breathe a little fuller in his seat, his feet too heavy.
Across the hall the Spanish ambassador tried to put his arm round the witch's waist and slipping out of the grip Yugi appeared to make a hard faced joke about the matter while placing herself out of reach and closer to Timaeus.
An impulse struck as Atemu caught the look in the Spaniard's eye and a little nip came over him.
Atemu left his brothers, the white ladies who liked to lean towards him like buzzards over a weak dog, and stepping down from the dais wasn't quite sure what he was doing till his hand settled heavy on the back of Yugi's neck and made the smaller spin.
"Majesty!" Yugi gasped, laughing coyly without any real happiness, "you scared me."
It was all appearances of happiness. Atemu shouldn't have felt anything, Yugi surely didn't given the steel hiding in her eyes but now much closer to the witch he called wife now Atemu found he felt fractionally warmer, less dead, than he had a second ago.
"Come dance with me," Atemu ordered, arm falling to hold fast about the narrow waist despite how Yugi's navel sucked in away from his hand.
"Dance…?" Yugi mumbled, visibly sickened just beneath the surface but unawares of their Sultana's suspicious, distrusting, nature the ambassadors smiled and lowered their noses as if embarrassed, as if they'd been caught wooing or doting.
"Yes," Atemu snorted with vague impatience. He hid his mouth behind Yugi's hair and against her ear whispered; "it involves feet and music. Perhaps you've heard of it in Hell?"
Yugi frowned and slapping Atemu's chest could've been mock offended by some perversion of a whispering hungrier husband had not her eyes been so sharp. The ambassadors chuckled however none the wiser. Huffing, eyes almost rolling, Yugi allowed Atemu to pull her out onto the tiles.
Atemu had his hand on Yugi's waist, considering the motion of cupping the hip in his hand, for less than half a turn before the witch was whispering at him.
"And what's this about then?" Yugi confronted.
"Do I have to have a motive?"
"You tend to."
Like this, faces close enough to call each other foul names without anyone catching on, Atemu had a distraction.
There was a niggle of heat as he considered his answer and sighing forward Atemu's mouth rested lazily into Yugi's frowning, uncomfortable, brow.
"There's something irritating about other men trying to make you happy," he decided to settle for given it sounded nasty enough.
Yugi snorted but wasn't amused.
"They don't make me happy," she answered, "you all want something and your sex tends to become violent at a moment's notice."
"Do you ever get tired of being so cold?" Atemu rasped against his brow. "The interplay of genders is supposed to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. You're supposed to want it."
"Do the sexes make you happy?" Yugi rumbled back in a tiny little hiss. "Do you like this? Do you like the way loving someone then has made you feel now? Do you want me to fall into the arms of some idiot while I'm already married?"
"Have you ever loved anything apart from yourself?" He shot back just as hotly under his breath pressing Yugi closer into his arms as if he liked her there. In eerie, unsettling, way he felt much warmer, his gut coiling, as the other's weight was trapped nearer.
"You think I'm ambitious, I think I'm protective," was the curt explanation. "There aren't any men I think are worth falling in love with anymore. I was born out of sync with them. I agreed to you because this way I can keep close to a place I consider my true home. I love this place, whatever you think of it, and these people."
"Hardly selfless are you?"
"Are you?" Yugi hissed. "You do things just because of how you feel, to hell with everyone else, you have no right to call me the selfish one."
Yugi's hands had slipped to his clavicle and as one curled into a fist it slapped against his collar bone with a little less force than the Gem-Faher visibly would've liked when Atemu met her eyes. He must've looked apathetic because the very well framed face just below him looked angrier.
"You can think whatever you want of me, you can hate me, but it's useless." Yugi murmured. "I won't lose things I decide to cling to, not for anything, and even if you never trust me I still have a thousand things I can scream at you. You are not on enough of a pedestal to insult me."
Atemu watched, they did half a turn on the tiles music rolling on slowly for them because the musicians were afraid to stop when they glanced so intensely at each other and Atemu…
Every word was a knot, tighter, tighter, and nearly nose to nose that new sense of expectation, of permission, that came from the eyes watching them… Yugi's hands had rested momentarily idle on his clavicle, Atemu's had found her waist, but they uncurled and slipping started to move back into more proper, more dismissive, positions. Something about the feline curve of her jaw, the improper scent of the perfume, the dignity of her narrowed eyes…
For a split second Atemu was hungry, dangerously, that knot of almost warmth exploding into heat and just as he became aware of it his stomach rebelled horribly. He wanted, just like he had not so long ago, to crush that cool little body up against his again and try and make it as hot as his insides had smelted to but…
He recoiled, surprised and disgusted at himself, and remembered…
Oh God Anzu, his played with father, his enthralled siblings, his dead child…
They were all, at least in his opinion, this thing's fault.
His father had refused to speak with him, refused to bless him, and dying had done so with Yugi while Atemu, his son, was crying in a hallway wishing he could see Qazzadara for a final second.
Atemu was furious at himself. In a second he seemed to realize that, as truly as Yugi loathed her, the witch honestly didn't seem to understand her own attractiveness. It was a funny kind of attraction, insidious, not the normal Christian longing to love, cherish and hold but that most feral instinct to conquer.
He untangled, pulled, perhaps pushed by the tiny hands pressing off him and given that flicker of permission Yugi lurched back away from him like a rabbit that had been waiting to dart for horribly long moments.
He left, burning and frothing he left.
Atemu, after whatever funny little ghost has descended upon him, had utterly refused to keep up their illusion of a proper marriage. Oh he'd stand the bare minimum in the next week but there were no more private meals, no more faked visits to the bed chamber, and the fact Yugi was still in her old chambers slowly became public knowledge though Atemu seemed so set on something that he didn't appear to care.
She sighed, smiling as an easy kind of swoon coming over her about a week later. As he retracted she felt freer. She tangled her fingers together excited as her silent friend the guard hefted the second of two large chests up the servant's passage and helped Yugi hide them in her rooms.
"Thank you my friend," Yugi grabbed his elbow, kissing the pitch black shoulder as it passed. "Thank you."
The man didn't really form a proper expression, didn't smile certainly, but he let Yugi pet him briefly and helped, almost absently, to sweep up the dirt that had fallen off the recently unburied chests hidden for the duration of Yugi's witch hunt.
"Thank you," Yugi repeated crouching to pick up the clumps of deep black earth into her own palm just as mindlessly. "I could ask no one else to help me hide them."
The guard stood, helping Yugi to her feet and bowing deep began without another word to disappear back down the passage he had snuck up through.
"If you ever have need of me," Yugi promised to the fine line of his spine, "please don't hesitate to ask."
A noble, silent, creature his guard disappeared without any confirmation. Sighing, happy in a flourishing kind of way Yugi tucked her hair back and grinning darted back to unlock the chests.
"Oh yes…" She laughed.
She felt now there had been enough time since the witch hunt and the marriage for her to sneak the worst of her contraband back into the palace.
A great deal of it was gifts from Qazzadara: books, a personal fortune should the Sultan rip her's from her, and the rest were heirlooms, tools, for the witchcraft Atemu always accused her of but had never caught her in the act of. This was a treasure trove of that sin.
There was an old, old, handmade wooden doll her grandmother had used to torture a few torch wielding villagers in retaliation for their burning Yugi's great-aunt. She kissed it. It was harmlesly disguised as a children's plaything in a little sewn frock. She put it back in the trunk filled with separating boxes and ran her fingers along the rims of the stacked pewter bowls in the corner still in one piece. Beautiful things they were, wrapped in a few of her best saris for padding, and sighing she felt like herself again now her tools were back.
She'd come to the East with much less than she had now but in these things she counted as her best possessions now were precious fragments of the motherland. She could go back to her old prayers, at least in private, singing out the ones of the East loudly and sincerely during the day. None of this meant that Yugi loved the gods of the East any less than the old spirits her ancestors had always called on. It was just she was not quite herself without both spirits.
She stood, picked up the doll again, and cradling it in both hands smiled down inspecting it.
The door an ante-chamber away pounded abruptly.
Yugi jolted, almost dropped the doll but with fierce instincts dug her nails in to hold it tighter as she spun.
"The Sultan for Milord," a clerk called from the hall.
Swearing Yugi shambled to stuff the tiny thing back in the trunk and lock it with a final kiss to the stiff ringlets. Panicking she tossed the keys ricocheting off into the darkness under the bed. As they scrapped along the tiles out of view she straightened herself, already striding, trying to work out the creases and whatever traces of dirt might be cloying to her saris.
Yugi straightened again, inhaled, stood taller, and tapping her side of the double doors told the tongueless guards they could open the chamber.
Atemu was in before they'd opened all the way, like a cat slinking into the back of a caravan, and pushing his foot back against the door had the guards begin closing it before they'd finished the motion of opening it.
Yugi took half a step back on reflex. Something about Atemu was steely tight, coiled a little too tense and inhaling he had those wild, dangerous, eyes of his.
"What's all this then?" Yugi supposed. She could accuse the Sultan of barging in at an ungodly hour but she'd lost some of those rights when she'd consented to marrying the maniac.
"I'll be taking some of the lords and a portion of our forces in the morning," Atemu informed, skirting past her into Yugi's dim lit rooms cradling his elbows. "I wanted you to be aware."
"Why?" Yugi turned, grasping one elbow on her slacker arm, following the nervous, brisk, pace of the king as he wandered to five feet further into the rooms.
"There's been a raid along the border with Sacrene," he sighed tensely, "a pack of useless marauders pillaging farm land."
"That's a small thing to merit you going directly," Yugi frowned stiffly as she cocked one hip a little further out. She was suspicious though, as always, she wasn't quite sure what she suspected Atemu to be up to.
"I suspect the Sacrians are testing our amiability," Atemu was stripping his gloves as a distraction wringing them between his fingers, "I want to crush it very publically. Show that we are not afraid. I'll leave enough here to keep the palace safe."
"Well I'd expect," she shrugged, unconcerned. "Still you could send your brothers for that."
"I want an adventure. A man likes to stick his sword into something every now and again," the king supplied grunting over the implication, almost crude but perhaps unintentionally. He yawned suddenly, without meaning to, into his hand and brushing his face sighed. "Also…"
"Also?" Yugi stressed both arms folding. What now?
"I want the Lesser Council to start choosing a selection of secondary wives," he decided firmly. "I have no intention of moving yet, or soon really, but I think it's best to think ahead on that."
"Well it was supposed to be my wedding present," she joked dryly.
Atemu sighed, eyes rolling back subtly as if she were impossible and her sass unnecessary.
"I suspect I won't see you for a few weeks."
"Heavens," Yugi remarked in the same lazy deadpan, "think we can manage being apart for ever so long?"
"I expect everything to be just as it is when I get back," Atemu warned tart but without any real passion.
"I'll only convert your cousins to Satanism."
1 Yep so that's what Yugi's guard was hiding.
2 Next update will either be in a fortnight or next week. Hopefully not in a month! I'm sorry again guys. It's a busy time. My birthday's next week!
Next Time: Yugi discusses the meaning of Gem-Faher and a year into their marriage Atemu makes a mutually uncomfortable request.