By Leanna Rigoux, Fan Fiction writer. “This claim would ensure your stake on the Crown. Only once before has a woman become Pharaoh. It’s practically unheard of.”
circa 1473 BCE, Akhet, Season of Flooding
The Crown stirs a thirst for more
The warm yet constant breeze of the Northwesterly wind, together with the full moon prominent in the black sky, beckoned Hatshepsut out onto her balcony. Staring out at the lotus ponds of her palace gardens, her gaze wandered across the expanse of Memphis draped in the silvery light.
She took note of the mud brick houses, the markets and the flooded plains. With the Nile River beyond, fanning its way into the delta, like veins, before pouring out into the Great Sea, Hatshepsut couldn’t help but feel prideful.
She had just returned from a short but highly successful military campaign against Nubia. Thanks to Amun, god of the sun and air, her reign as Queen Regent thus far has been brilliant and fulfilling and stirred within her a thirst for more.
Servant Tara welcomes the Queen
“It’s wonderful to have you back, your Majesty,” Tara says, upon entering the bedchamber. Hatshepsut turns and smiles at her body servant. “It’s wonderful to be back.” She walks over to her bed and sits, allowing her favorite maiden to undress her.
Tara slips Hatshepsut’s sheath over her head, then slides Hatshepsut’s arms into her bathrobe. “Were you able to pay tribute to Sekhmet and Amun at Karnak?”
“Mmhm.” As is her duty upon her homecoming despite her exhaustion. Once back at the palace she also checked in on the children, first her daughter, then her step-son and co-regent. Both were resting peacefully.
A visit from advisor Rikhmire
At that moment, a soldier comes knocking at her chamber’s door. Hatshepsut stands, knotting her tie whilst Tara permits the young man in. As he stands at her threshold the guard announces that her advisor, Rikhmire Senenmut has come, requesting an audience with her Majesty.
At her approval, the guard grants him entry. “Rikh, is everything alright?” Hatshepsut asks.
“Forgive me for the intrusion, my Queen. I know the hour is late, but I wanted to congratulate you on your success and honestly, to see for myself if you are well.”
“And that couldn’t wait till the morning?” She gives him a secret smile, which he reciprocated with a knowing one.
“No, it couldn’t.” He throws a surreptitious glance towards her servant as she gathers the safflower and castor oils, then looks back to Hatshepsut.
She holds up both hands for him to view, twisting them left to right. “No broken bones, my loyal one. Just a few scratches and bruises nothing to be concerned about.” She closes one of the chests containing her linens and sits on the lid.
Princess Judith is thriving
“Come, tell me how was Judith with her studies.”
Rikh strides over, taking the seat next to her. “Very perceptive for her young age as you know, so she’s showing extraordinary potential, quite the clever girl, not unlike her mother.”
“No, not me, it’s you. Under your tutelage, she’s thriving and I can’t tell you how much that pleases me.” She grins.
“And pleasing you pleases me, your Majesty. But the success of the princess is both a delight and a source of pride to myself.”
There’s a moment’s hesitation, then he again casts a contemplative glance towards her servant. She shakes her head confused, he knows Tara is the most discreet maiden in her court, or else she wouldn’t have allowed him to enter her bedchamber this time of night.
Rumors aim to take away the Crown
“Rikhmire Senenmut, speak!”
He clears his throat. “Actually,” he says, lowering his voice, “There is another matter I felt was urgent to bring to your immediate attention.”
The intensity which sharpens his gaze sent a chill to her heart. “Leave us,” she commands her body servant. “I will send for you again shortly.”
As soon as the door shuts, she sprang up, peering down at him. A thread of anxiety was already worming its way through her gut.
“There’s been talk, my Queen. Rumors are being whispered with the intention of discrediting your capabilities. That’s not new I know, but this time your Majesty, the seeds of doubt are being planted by someone close to you. It’s someone whom you trust.”
“That’s not possible.”
“It is. And it’s my understanding that that someone is the only son of your father’s youngest brother—Heath. He, along with his wife and his father-in-law are trying to curry favor with other members of your own household, spewing false beliefs that you are out to ruin the dynasty, by turning your back against the priests.”
Divide within the Royal family
A feeling of uneasiness stole upon her at the incomprehensible suspicion that she had been wrong about her cousin’s character. But she fidgets away from it. It is not possible, is it?
Clutching her bathrobe, her eyes zero in on the mosaic tiles beneath her bare feet. Heath had always been amiable to her but his wife, the beautiful and cunning daughter of Vizier Assuraman, seems to be allowing her father’s lofty goals to cause a divide within the Royal family. She was influenced to turn her husband against his own flesh and blood.
Ready to wear the King of Egypt’s Crown
“Let them,” she says, banishing the displeasure, “It is of no consequence. I too would like to discuss a serious matter with you. As my number one advisor, I need you to help me strategize my next move as co-regent of Egypt.”
Hatshepsut hooked her arm in Rikh’s and leads him to her antechamber for further privacy. With the door closed behind them, he stares at her quizzically.
“In the best interests of my people,” she confides, “I am ready to take my place as my father’s intended successor. I want to be crowned not as Queen, but as Pharaoh, King of Egypt.” She observes him closely, bracing for his reaction. He nods slowly, so she continues. “I have been well-trained in my duties as the daughter of a King, well experienced in the administration of my kingdom as Chief Wife to a King. I feel I deserve this rulership. What say you? Do you think I am mad?”
Invaluable support from advisor
He frowned. “Mad? Why would I think that? I think, whatever my Queen wishes is my command.”
She smiles. Satisfied, a feeling of deep relief warms and coats her insides at hearing his endorsement… his support invaluable. “Comprise a list of those who are most loyal to me and we will assign them as officials, giving them key positions in my kingdom, surrounding myself with unbreakable advocacy.”
He folds his arms and strokes his beard. Pensive lines now crease his forehead.
Hatshepsut starts to pace. “I would assume the royal attire to make it easier for the common people to accept me as their sovereign.”
Stake on the Crown
“If you wish, if you think it’s necessary but you are the child of God. They will accept your reign.”
She halts. “I am?”
“Of course, you are. It is clear that Amun favors you Hatshepsut. Remind the palace of your accomplishments and they shall not deny it.”
She assesses him, shocked into silence.
“Explain that your victories are a result of divine birth and they wouldn’t dare to challenge you. It wouldn’t be hard to spread the gossip.”
“I don’t think I can make such a claim Rikh.”
“You can, my Queen.” He moves nearer, takes her hands in his. “Do you trust me?”
“There is no other I hold in the highest regard and you know that.”
“Then believe me when I say, this claim would ensure your stake on the Crown. Only once before has a woman become Pharaoh. It’s practically unheard of.”
Plans to cross the Red Sea
“But it’s not impossible.”
“No, my Queen, it is not impossible. Whilst you were away, as per your request, I’ve had talks with Nehisi about plans to build a fleet to cross the Red Sea to facilitate trade with Punt on a grand scale, such as has never been attempted before in the past eighteen dynasties.”
“But the risks of such a voyage…” She turns and peers out her window at the barges in the distance.
“Would be great, yes I know, your Majesty.”
Missed the woman who wears the Crown
She senses him approaching her from behind. “But you are great. And, under your rulership your leadership there’s nothing the soldiers won’t do. Convince them that the rewards of obtaining ebony and myrrh, ivory and frankincense far outweigh any perceivable threats of danger and they would bow low and follow you whole-souled, my Queen. In turn, the people will obey your words… they will unite themselves under your command.”
His hands now crept up to both sides of her neck and gently, he slides back her robe exposing her shoulders. Soft, warm lips press tender kisses across her skin and it’s as if pure honey channeled its way into her bloodstream.
“I haven’t had my bath,” she says, smiling.
“You could have been dipped in a river of blood, I would not care.”
She smirks. How endearing—his hunger for her. “In other words Rikhmire, you’ve missed me.”
“In other words, my Queen, yes… terribly.”
She who wears the Crown is honored
She spins around and faces him, her nose touching his, her lips, a breath away. She can smell him… feel his aura everywhere and he is too bright, too brilliant to take in all in one instant. His eyes are already drunk, consuming her, his hands gripping her hips as he brings her body firmly against his.
“Spent most nights dreaming about you, my dear one,” she says, her fingers sinking into his hair, “Other than little Judith, you alone bring me joy.”
“Is that right?” The strength of his thigh pushes between her legs. She gasps.
“Then I’m honored.”
“As you should be.”
He gazes at her with too much emotion… she melts, from head to toe. She is hot liquid. How has she survived for weeks without his touch, his taste? She can’t begin to fathom it.
He leans his head and slants his lips across hers, kissing her gently… reverently. The speed of her pulse elicits a pleasurable pain that grows and spreads and threatens to shatter her to pieces. She clutches him, trusting him not to let her fall and it feels so good for once not needing to be the strong one… even if it’s for a brief time. And yes, it is only for a brief time. She knows that their love for each other has, at last, run its course. The ardor they share must now be bottled and tossed into the past, as they and all of Egypt hurtle towards a new future.
“Enough politics… come to me tomorrow night. I missed you as well.”
He kisses her once more. “Yes your Majesty, as you wish. Tomorrow night.”
Lounging on her plush chaise, tangled in her cool linen sheet, Hatshepsut watches Rikh under the dancing light from the oil lamps as he wraps his kilt around his hips and legs. He ties his belt around his waist, slides his tunic over his head and kneels before her. The tips of her brown fingers toy with the broad layered collar fitted around his pale neck. The adornment, made of a bright blue lapis, perfectly match his engaging eyes.
Now, under the gaze of those same eyes, she feels nothing short of cherished and she doesn’t want to give it up, not yet.
Love versus the Crown
On the other hand, she is conflicted, not wanting to prolong the inevitable either. Throughout her day, Hatshepsut thought about how best she would ask him this. She rehearsed what she would say. But now no words seemed appropriate.
She sits upright, drawing in a deep breath of fortitude. “Rikh,” she says, “with regards to what we discussed yesterday, should we start down this path—”
“When,” he corrects, with that unflappable confidence of his she has come to not only admire but emulate.
“When,” she says, “we start down this path, implement our move to make me King, there are… sacrifices, great ones, which I’m afraid must be made.” She cups his neck, tightening her grip as she steels herself to let him go.
He brings his hands up to her cheeks and for a moment she thinks, hopes, that maybe he already perceives what she needs to say, and that he’ll save her from having to utter those heartbreaking words herself.
But he doesn’t. He simply stares, with warmth and kindness.
She sighs with discontent at her own frailty. So she continues, forging ahead. “Rikh, this—what we share—will have to come to an end. It should—tonight.”
He goes quiet. After a few seconds of building tension, he gives her an imperceptible nod of understanding. But she sees something else stiffen his expression: resistance, disappointment.
She bites her lower lip… runs her hands along his chest, his shoulders, his arms and neck. “Say something. Please. You do understand, don’t you?” Just as she pulls him close for a kiss, he draws back, rising to his feet. She clenches her fists, gazing up at him. “I cannot give my cousins or anyone else further reasons to challenge my taking the Throne.”
Must wear Crown with no scandals
“You are a warrior!”
“I am a woman.”
“So what? You are not the first female to have rulership over Egypt and your legacy would ensure you won’t be the last.”
“But I want to be the greatest… the most powerful. No complications, no scandals…”
He steps away. “Is that all I am to you, a scandal?”
“Of course not.” She deflates. “Remember what you said to me before my departure to Nubia. We’re the ones who get things done. You said that. We’re the ones to ensure that nothing should stand in the way of our true purpose, to bring glory to the land of Egypt.” She gathers her sheet, stands to face him and places a light hand on his arm. “Not even love.”
The Crown is above all
The rigidness in his posture relaxes. A look of deference reaches his eyes. He takes in a deep breath and nods.
“You are inspiring,” she says, “and there is so much more yet to be accomplished. But…but…”
“The Crown is above all,” he finishes.
“Precisely. The Crown is above all.”
October 2019 www.sweettntmagazine.com
You may also like: