“Clean the curtains!”
“Hang the laundry!”
“Fix the food!”
“Everything must be perfect!”
So much was happening all at once! The ball was tonight, and so many things had to be done! Tea and Maat had both been working constantly, trying to make sure that everything was perfect. They barely had any time to themselves—actually, they had NO time to themselves at all…and that fact made the young Pharaoh angry.
Maat was HIS playmate; she wasn’t any ordinary maid or servant, she was for him for when he beckoned, and for when he called her. But the palace seemed short of helpers, and Maat, being her kind self, decided to volunteer (which he hadn’t approved of, by the way). He often found himself lying around, reading a book or sketching landscapes; he had even attempted to help his father rule the lands, but nothing seemed to be more important to the lands than the ball tonight. The young ruler sighed now, lying on his bed in defeat. There really was NOTHING to do. Maat, where are you? He wondered.
“Do you know where the flowers are?” Yami looked up from his bed in a start, hearing his oldest friend’s voice outside the door. Quickly maneuvering his way off of his large bed, he ran into the hallway, calling out to the girl he had been yearning to see. “Maat!” The girl stopped, and turned with a large pot in her hands. Her eyes fluttered for a moment before she coughed from the dust that lashed out of the pot and into her face. Before putting it down and wiping the air clean with the wave of her hand, she attempted to smile at Yami. Yami quickly ran up, pulling out a hanker chief to wipe her now dirty face, and she thanked him lightly before smiling. “Did you need something, young Pharaoh?” She asked, now picking the pot up again. Yami pouted as he put his hanker chief away, walking closer to her. Yami noticed how she backed up a little and shuffled her feet impatiently; was she already leaving him?
“Maat, everyone is so busy…I have no one to talk to.” Maat sighed but chuckled at this, and tilted her head to him. “We’re doing this all for your ball, young Pharaoh! Be patient; tonight everyone will be talking to you.” Yami grumbled under his breath; he didn’t want to wait until tonight…he wanted someone to talk to now! Maat looked at him with a smile, already reading his thoughts, and lowered the pot to the ground one more time. Maat realized, no matter how old Yami was, he always acted like a spoiled prince; especially when he felt lonely. “Young Pharaoh,” She said, causing Yami to look down at her (he had grown quite tall), “Don’t be so sad. Here, take this.” Maat smiled and pulled his hand out, placing a piece of paper in it before bowing lightly and picking up the pot once more.
“What is it?” Yami curiously questioned as she turned to walk away. She smiled, “I learned how to read and write, remember? I wrote it for you, in case you were to get bored.” She winked with a chuckle, “Came in handy, didn’t it?” With that, she raced down the hallway, already having wasted so much time. Yami looked after her before quickly looking down at the paper and opening it. The writing was poor and messy; it was expected from a beginner like Maat. He struggled to read it, but as he did so, he noticed the messages on the paper were riddles. Yami raised an eyebrow in interest; he had always had a thing for riddles. Quietly, he walked back into his room, and sat upon the chair on the balcony, his attention now captured. Rereading the first puzzle, he put his hand upon his chin as his elbow rested on the chair’s arm. “I have skin, inside and out, yet my organs thrive inside and out, too…Hm…” He looked up from the paper with a smile on his face, completely disregarding what he had just read; though riddles did please him, Maat pleased him even more.
She had gone through the trouble of defying the law to gratify him, and it worked. It was against the law for a maid, none the less a woman, to learn how to read or write, yet she gladly did so, and the first thing she wrote was a letter, for him! Yami’s cheeks turned red in satisfaction; he never wanted Maat to stop pleasing him so.
“Phew…” Maat sat down, her brow drenched in sweat. How difficult could it be, she first thought, to help?
It proved difficult, all right.
It seemed like she had completed a year’s worth of work in the few hours she had been helping; she had wiped the floors, cleaned the kitchen, swept the garden grounds; it was the first time Maat had really noticed how many things had to be done in the large palace she grew up in.
“Maat! Come help us move the flowers into the ball room!” Tea called, carrying a large basket full of blooming flowers. The thirteen year old girl sighed, nodded, and stood up slowly to help. At least it would all be better when Yami was praised tonight! At least, that’s what she hoped for. She had been having this feeling in her stomach; something was going to happen tonight, and she didn’t know what it was. Nonetheless, she prayed that nothing bad happened to Yami, and that the feeling was merely a stomach ache.
“Maat! Come on!” Tea yelled at the slow girl, “We have to practice our dance after this, too!” As Maat made her way over to help, sighing a long sigh along the way, the Pharaoh looked at her from afar in interest.
Maat, what an interesting girl. She was brave, wise, patient and very beautiful; if Yami did not feel so close to her, the Pharaoh certainly would have made her one of his main mistresses by now. But Yami kept her close at all times; which was also fine, the Pharaoh noted.
That’s when the idea hatched.
The Pharaoh’s lips curled into a smile as he rested his hand on his chin. “I think that could work out pretty well, actually…” The Pharaoh belched out a large laugh in joy, and pounded his fist onto his chest, “Very well!” He declared, “I have decided!”
“Finally!” Maat cried, opening the door to Tea and hers room, “Everything is done except for our practice!” Maat said, landing on her feathered bed with a happy cry. “And we’ve rehearsed so much already, it’ll be simple!” Tea nodded, sitting down in front of her mirror to brush her hair.
“I’m just happy I won’t get any more dust in my hair!” She cried, “It’s taken way too long to get the spider webs out!” Maat stifled a chuckle,
“It’s funny on how it always ended up being Joey’s fault…”
“He kept on throwing all of the spider-infested things my way! Of course it was his fault!” Tea huffed before standing up, “I’m going to go bathe. I’ll be out in a little.” Maat waved her off as she laid back down onto her bed with a sigh. As she closed her eyes, she heard the door close, and she was alone.
She fell into a gentle sleep for a couple of minutes before awakening to the door opening. Without even looking, or getting up for that matter, she called out, “Hey Tea…did you forget something?” There was a deep chuckle, and Maat’s eyes flared open in alarm as she sat up. For a moment, she was dizzy, and she still didn’t know who it was that was standing in front of her, but the room stopped spinning slowly as the person focused.
Oh, she wished she hadn’t let her eyes focused…
The Pharaoh stood in front of her, a playful grin resting upon his lips. When Maat had first come to the castle, he acted like he was the strictest person on the Earth, but as she grew up and he got used to her presence, he became very childish around her and his son. Though he still had wrinkles on just about every part of his body, and his hair was thinning and graying, but his voice was his strongest attribute; strapping and deep. That was the one thing Yami hoped to develop, Maat recalled, a voice ‘just like his father’s.’
“Good afternoon, Maat.” The Pharaoh greeted, causing Maat to stop day dreaming and fall on her knees, bowing.
“G-good afternoon, my dear Pharaoh! May you live long—”
“Enough, enough!” The Pharaoh chimed, “Stand up, child! I have not come to hang you, so stop kissing my feet!” He chuckled to himself as if there was a joke in the words he had said, but no one else laughed. Once he finished chuckling, he looked at Maat with a smile. “I have come to talk to you about this ball.” Maat jumped; had he heard Yami ordering her to dance with him? Or worse; had he heard about the riddles that she’d written?! Was he going to punish her? She bit her lip; maybe that was why he had been laughing, he was lying about hanging her!
As these thoughts ran through her mind, the Pharaoh watched in amusement while she tried to figure out his motive for coming to see her. “Now, now, Maat. Relax, I’m really not planning anything evil. On the other hand, I am coming to ask you quite an…uplifting…question.” Maat blinked, and lifted her head up in confusion as the Pharaoh continued, “Maat, how long have you been in my palace?” Maat tilted her head in more confusion, but answered none the less, “I believe I have been here five years, my Pharaoh…I will be here for my sixth year the next full moon.” Yami’s father nodded, and rested his cheek on his hand as he sat down on a chair nearby.
“Does anybody, besides perhaps myself,” He said, “Understand the Young Pharaoh as much as you?” Maat’s eyes flickered in confusion; what did he mean? Did anyone understand Yami as much as her? She thought about it; perhaps she was more knowledgeable than others when it came to the young Pharaoh, but that was just because she was his official playmate! But regardless, she noted, she was probably the most educated person when it came to that boy.
She looked at the Pharaoh and responded, “Yes, my Lord, I do believe that is true.” The Pharaoh laughed heartily, nodding happily,
“I knew it! See, Jabs?! I told you!” Jabs, the servant on his left side, simply nodded, and the king of Egypt continued his conversation, “I figured as much, and so I wanted to ask you a question about your future here at the palace.” Maat tilted her head; what about her future at the palace? Did he want to fire her?
“You see,” The Pharaoh began, “I was wondering if you’d like to wed to my son.” Maat’s mouth dropped open; what had he said?!
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