The cool breeze rustled her soft, auburn tresses as the Egyptian night wore steadily on. Nights were colder now, colder then she had ever known them to be before. Perhaps it was because she had only known true warmth a few nights before, when he had held her in his arms. Gods, it was perfect... Just thinking of him, of his smile (brighter then Ra's light and whiter then the moon), his eyes (biting, murky eyes drowned in a sea of pitch black), his lips (soft when he was somewhat satisfied, for he was never truly satisfied, and harder when he was feeling possessive)... And upon remember all of this, the tangled thoughts of his love wove through her mind and her knees would become weak.

//Never thought you'd make me perspire

Never thought I'd do you the same//

No one had ever made her feel the way he did. No one had ever kissed her, nor touched her, like he did. By Amon's hand, he had grown from such a young prince, one who had been described as timid and shy, to a man... and man whom she knew all too well. He was all the females in Egypt and otherwise spoke of. He was the one whom all the royal women and princesses from many distant lands dreamed of marrying, of taking to their bowers. He... the man she had known only a short time, and yet she felt as if she had always known him. He whom she could only form four solid thoughts in a sequence about anything that did not involve him (t'was always the fifth one that sent her into a spiral)... And though she loved him, oh! how she did dote upon him, she felt guilty for every moment they spent together. Their love was star-crossed. Doomed from the very first passion-play kiss.

//Never thought I'd fill with desire

Never thought I'd feel so ashamed//

Born a slave girl, aye!, her times had been harsh! She was sold from master to master, always abused, always spurned. She had been strong in her certainty that the Gods were against her, and every night, she would cry herself to sleep. This continued for quite some time until a girl she was, then a woman... A hard woman, one who did not let others sway her or bring her down. Her will to survive challenged the forever-burning stars, the harsh and biting desert sands. She was sold to the palace, a domestic slave, and only then did she meet the prince. Never had ice melted so fast at the touch!

//Me and the dragon

Can chase all the pain away

So before I end my day

Remember//

Suddenly, he was passing her in the halls of the palace, attempting to hurry ahead but letting his fingers slip silently over her shoulder, her neck, her collarbone; always lingering just too long to have been a slip of the wrist. Once, she had been taming a horse's unruly mane in the stables (his horse. black. a stallion, never given a name.) He had crept up behind her, for there were no others about. Masterfully and thoroughly (which, she soon came to find, was the way he did everything), he had pulled her hair back like a curtain and whispered something in her exposed ear. He had spoken in the Babylonian tongue, and he apparently expected her to be ignorant of this language. But an old master of hers had been Babylonian and she had not forgotten a single, foreign word.

"I have ne'er before laid eyes upon such a goddess... I want you."

Her pupils had doubled in size but when she turned, all she had seen was the end of his cape swishing around a corner.

//My sweet prince

You are the one

My sweet prince

You are the one//

After he had caught her eye during one too many a day, she began to go silently insane. She was trained not to lock her gaze with that of the prince, for, though he was not yet a pharaoh, he was royalty, and must be treated as such. This drove her nearly mad. She had come to this palace in a way already dead. And then this god in midnight robes and a long red cape breathed life into her. She was awake again, sick with love and lust (though she was not sure which had come first), and she could not do a thing. The slave girl was forbidden to even catch his eye.

//Never thought I'd have to retire

Never thought I'd have to abstain//

And then one night, when the moon hung high and full in the night sky, she was roused from sleep by one of the other girls. Stumbling with fatigue, she followed blindly behind the other and found herself outside the door of the pharaoh's bedchamber. This had quickened her pulse, her breath. Oh, Gods, why was she here?! Why had he called for her?! But she swallowed her fear and opened the door, not letting the terrible poison of knowledge sink into her. She knew what she was beginning, yet she refused to listen.

//Never thought all this would backfire

Close up the hole in my vein//

She entered his room and found him there, eyes cast to the sky, mind lost in the cloudless night. When he turned from his sentinel at the balcony, she saw his face, half lit by the voluptuous moon, half secluded in mystic shadows. Her knees practically gave way and she stumbled.

"My... prince..." The words fell hot and dry from her cracked lips.

A smile spread over his face, one of devious thoughts and the sensual dreams of restless nights. Slowly, he took steps to lessen the space between them.

"Is something troubling you, girl?.....Perhaps I can be of some assistance..."

//Me and my valuable friend

Can fix all the pain away

So before I end my day

Remember//

The space between them no longer existed after he reached down and placed his large hand on her back, snaking his arm around her waist. Gently, he drew her closer, not because he was a gentle man, but only that every slow movement made her insane.

"A question, I must ask, and an answer I would hope to receive. Your name, fair one?"

//My sweet prince

You are the one

My sweet prince

You are the one//

Her own name could not seem to slip from her tongue. "M--M--Mariasha

"Ah..." He nodded, pleased and... she detected a hint of arousal. "Perfect is the meaning of your name but it is also given to one who is bitter with sorrow... Deep runs my pity."

Stumbling, she managed to speak of her days and nights before she came to the palace. Her speech was awkward but somehow, the words were said.

"Aye, child! These times are harsh..." She had controlled herself in following one rule, for she never did meet his gaze. But before this was said he lifted her chin and stared deep into her with his depthless night eyes. "The Gods weep for you..."

"My prince..." She pleaded as their lips drew nearer.

"Aten..." He whispered sensuously. "My name."

" 'My refuge'..." She spoke the meaning of his name as their lips, hungry for this moment, met. It rained fire that night and all the water turned to wine, so she was concerned.

//You are the one

You are the one

You are the one//

He was a curious kind of lover, hard and possessive, like she had said. But she had noticed something in him when he took her that night. He softened a little (the slightest tantalizing bit) so that she could receive the fullness of their lovemaking. This had made her call out as the pace slowed and suddenly, she wanted him to begin it all over again. Gods, he was everything! Her savior from thoughts of suicide and her bitter resentment toward the gods. Her passion, her refuge... And then... He had told her. As the prince of the Egyptian empire, he was required to marry a girl of royal blood from Babylonia. What had the slave girl, Mariasha wanted? To wed the prince and wake up beside him every morning? To be bonded to him, his one and only? No, child... Life was too cruel. And though he still came to see her and though she still allowed him, never could she feel the same. He was leaving her, he was going to be married, and he did not love her enough to object. Cursed be the day she had ever come to the palace!

//Never thought I'd get any higher

Never thought you'd fuck with my brain//

So on this night, the evening of his pre-nuptials, she stood on the balcony of his room, and she waited. Soon, she felt someone reach out from behind her and slip her hair back like a curtain. She knew who it was, and could have quite accurately predicted what he was to say.

"Mariasha... I love you... I do... But tradition cannot let us be wed. I must marry the princess."

"I understand..." She tilted her head, so as to meet his eyes. Her face was half hidden in shadows, half streaked by the moonlight, while his was so young and inexperienced, taking in the complete rays of the intense and unforgiving moon.

"Aten, I do... After all, every pharaoh has his liaisons and rendezvous out of his lady's bed... You will not miss me for I will be that..."

"Oh, Mariasha..." He rested his head on her shoulder and then began to kiss her neck, gradually moving lower. Suddenly, she pushed him back, an impulsive burst of anger surging through her.

//Never thought all this could expire

Never thought you'd go break the chain//

"Gods, Aten! Listen to us! If you love me, relinquish the throne!"

His eyes dropped to the floor. He was a child caught in the act of disobedience. She could not stand this.

"I love you, Aten... I always will... But you do not know how much this marriage will do to us. Goodbye, my love, my refuge... I would hope you would not expect to see me again." Though she did not watch his face as she turned and left, she was sure he was startled and knew not what to say. She escaped to the home of a cousin on the morrow, and though she did think about him often, she never did look back. But how she had wanted to! Ra, how she'd wanted to...

//Me and you baby

Still flush all the pain away

So before I end my day

Remember//

An old woman was shopping in the marketplace many years past. Her body was worn from childbearing and childrearing and her skin and hair had grayed with age. But she was happy. And so, just as she found a perfectly ripe fruit, she heard two voices nearby.

"Gods, they have finally taken him..."

"Yes... So the pharaoh is dead"

"Hai... It's almost a relief. I had heard that he had always seemed so sad. Royal life t'was too squalid for him I suppose..."

They cackled like crows.

"But my husband serves in the palace. He was there for the death of the Sun Child, Pharaoh. He told me that His Majesty uttered a few curious phrases..."

"Do tell, do tell..."

"All night, he had been moaning like his very heart was being ripped from his chest.--aye, and still beating!--And then he looked straight up at the sky and whispered, just like he was conversing merrily with the gods-- 'I was your refuge... Am I still? You loved me... Do you still?' Then, a great silence fell over the room, perhaps the whole land of Egypt, and he said weakly 'I love you... I was wrong...' How very peculiar..."

"Indeed... What could it mean?"

Mariasha dropped her fruit. Wiping a long-kept tear from her still-green eyes, she said softly,

"I still do..."

//My sweet prince

You are the one

You are the one

You are the one

You are the one

You are the one

You are the one

You are the one

You are the one//