Epilogue

The nurse handed the child to Akhenaten gently, but with her head bowed in fear. The expression on the pharaoh's face was indecipherable--she could not tell if he was angry with her or not.

"It is a male child, my lord." That, at least, should make him happy. The nurse knew little of the affairs between the members of the royal family, for she was new to the palace. However, she had heard that Queen Kiya had fallen out of favor with the pharaoh long months ago.

She looked down at the woman in the bed beneath her. She was not strikingly beautiful, but she was pretty. Her long, red-brown locks framed a face that, though frozen in an expression of pain and suffering, was youthful and sweet. Her eyes, noticed the nurse, were a light shade of gray. They were open and pleading. The nurse reached over a closed them gently. She had already checked the pulse.

"Queen Kiya is dead." The nurse did not lookup to see the pharaoh's reaction, but she could not help noticing the response of the dead queen's maids. They all broke into tears, from the stolid Dinka women to the little Egyptian slave.

The pharaoh turned around and growled in sudden anger. "I will not have my son disturbed by woman's wailing. All of you! Out! Leave me." He looked down at the infant in his arms as the woman shuffled out; muffling heartbroken sobs into their veils.

He was small, but delicately so. His eyes were large in his round face. Though his size might suggest sickliness, his expression and movements were full of exuberant life. He looked into his father's face and laughed.

"So vibrant," Akhenaten whispered. "Like the Aten.... so bright and beautiful." He hesitated for a moment. "The living image of the Aten-- Tutankhaten." A long minute passed with Akhenaten surveying the baby's features more closely. Suddenly, he thrust his son into the nurse's arms.

" It is your duty to care for this child--he is Tutankhaten, my son, and my heir after Smenkhare. Let no harm come to him." He paused briefly to gaze at the body on the bed. "Now, leave me."

The nurse bowed and began to leave the room. "Should I not call in the embalmers to see to the queen?"

The pharaoh turned around with a fiery gaze. "I will have them brought when I see fit. Now, go."

After the nurse's footsteps could no longer be heard, Akhenaten walked slowly to the bed. He sat on the edge, ignoring the stink of childbirth and death around him. He lay his hand softly on Kiya's face, stroking her marble-cold skin.

"So, my beloved, I suppose that this is our end. I have too many regrets now to name--I will not trouble your soul with them. No, I will finally let you be at peace--the peace that you have not been able to enjoy for so long." He paused as the tears began to flow out of his unlined eyes. "It is a tragedy that we had to waste these last few months. All because of me--my fear..." Akhenaten began to sob unreservedly. "I have lost my kingdom--what I thought most important. But I never thought I would lose my happiness--- my light. I lost you long ago, Kiya--I cast you off deliberately, though your heart, as ever, was pure. It is too late to make amends now, but I thank you for the beautiful, perfect son that you have given me--and I hope that you find happiness of your own in the afterlife. Though your monuments are all but destroyed, do not fear, for you will be remembered--if only in the faces of your sons."

The End

*** Author's Note: I can't believe I finally finished this... *sob*. I wish I didn't have to kill off Kiya--I really didn't want to--*sigh*. The tragedy of historical accuracy. I briefly considered writing a follow-up about Tutankhaten, but Quiet One already beat me there with the beginnings of her great story. Well, I must thank everyone who helped me with their reviews--the positive ones that encouraged, and the critical ones (though I didn't get half as many as I deserved--you guys have been too nice) that helped me make corrections and improvements.

OK, now to name and simultaneously thank all who have reviewed--

Quiet One

Melrick

Nebet Merit

Serenity

WeasleyTwinsLover1112

Victoria Regina

Ahotep

Zanuas917

Queen of the Harpies

Sapphire Jewel

Vireco

Ms. McGhans

Nefertari

Caramelle

Jinnikin

Keeper of Heartfire

Lucy

Faery Tragedy

lilyofthevalley5

Drops-of-Winter

BlackPanther1

Thank you all so much for your lovely reviews! Notwithstanding my many doubts, I have a strange desire to see this story published. If any one would like to help me edit--as in point out the many flaws I am sure are present--I would gratefully accept any and all help. Thanks again!