Title: Shade of Perfection
Disclaimer: Yu-gi-oh and the characters do not belong to me. This story is written for the purpose of entertainment and no money is made from it.
A/N: Story for aboh. I apologize for the delay in posting, I was ill for the last few days when I was writing the final thing.
Shade of Perfection
Soft footsteps were muffled by night as they rushed down toward the banks of the Nile. This part of the river was a part of the Royal Palace, therefore protected against regular contamination. Here the waters were clear, calm, secluded and cool after the heat of the summer.
It was well into evening, so the waters glimmered happily in the leftover sunlight, surrounded by tall palms and frothing papyrus. The sky was a tint of gold and already a tiny sliver of moon forced its way through the brilliance of the sun. There was a scent on the breeze, beautiful, familiar and so nostalgic that one could almost taste the memories it bought; dreams and recollections of love, pleasure and beauty all held still like a single raindrop frozen in time. Bountiful blue and pink blossoms floated on the surface, their petals still lazily drinking in the last rays of light. Under the surface, white buds waited patiently for the night when they could emerge and open their petals in obeisance to the moon.
This was the place that Seth, the youngest priest in Pharaoh’s court, called his sanctuary. No other was allowed here but the most privileged and of course, Pharaoh because everything including the lives of the people of Khemet belonged to Pharaoh. Now, Seth himself rushed toward the banks with another boy when that boy suddenly stopped.
Seth turned. “What’s wrong?”
The boy, who was no more than ten, lifted his foot and examined his heel, where a rather cruel splinter had buried itself. He had not noticed it before when he was running fleet-footed through the sandstone pillars, but became aware when he took his first step into the sanctuary.
The priest held his hands and guided the boy to the water and bade him sit down. “Put it in the water, Seto.” He instructed after pulling the splinter out. “It will ease the pain; it’s very pure. See, the lotuses would not grow in it otherwise.”
Seto did as instructed and looked at the water and flowers bobbing beneath the surface. “It looks like the sky.” He said in surprise. And quite understandably, for he had never seen such a sight before. The Nile was always too polluted back in the village for anything but papyrus and shrubs. Perhaps once or twice, there might drift down a lily, but never an entire field of them.
Seth laughed. “Wait till the night; the sky will melt to make way for a hundred moons.” He turned and pressed closer to Seto, unconsciously noticing that they fit together perfectly, two bodies melding into one, together like a puzzle. There was so much joy to be had out of these simple touches, brief gestures and just sitting beside each other. Poets and passionate men described love as fiery and destructive, able to incinerate hearts within minutes and pave the road to insanity. But these children knew not what the word meant in that sense, only that they enjoyed each other and took pleasure out of their company. Love as that strange and complex creature, meant nothing to them. Only they existed in the world like these lotuses, pure, simple and frozen in solitude where the poverty of life nor the ridiculous laws of humankind touched them at all.
Seth half opened his eyes and realized, though he may have laughed at Seto’s remark, the mosaic of the deep blue and red lotuses did look like the sky. Gently, he dipped his hand and plucked away two blue lotuses.
“Paradise and Immortality.” He said, skillfully weaving the slick stems together. “Divine flowers, blessed by the touch of Re himself.” The two flowers came together as a bouquet of startling blue with brilliant golden centers. The blue was as vibrant as Seto’s eyes but his eyes however, lacked the golden glimmer of joy in the inside. Despite the calm and peace of the evening, the misery and poverty of life were still wrapped around him.
Seto and Seth, they looked like twins, were closer than twins. But Seto was by nature mistrustful, introverted, and passive and likened to the stone wall of a fortress, unfathomable and impenetrable. Seth clung to him with all his heart, pouring as much devotion as it took to bring even the smallest smile to his stoic lips. It roused in him an affection that went beyond anything spiritual or passionate. If one took away all the mirrors and illusions, save for these moments, life held no joy for him. If there was no joy to be found in life itself, he indulged himself in love and death. All his happiness, sorrow, pain and pleasure sprung from this love.
“You really love me, Seth?” Seto asked with a slight smile, brushing the soft petals against his cheek and breathing in their scent.
“Or you could ask me if I breathe.”
Seto smiled again, and rested his chin on his hands. “Do you breathe, Seth?” It was meant as a jest.
“How can I not? You too keep breathing till death and afterlife.” Seth plucked the blue petals of the lotus. “Paradise and immortality; may they kiss your feet forever.”
He could see Seto walking among lotuses in heaven, but as for himself, no such future. How could one small blossom have the power to grant a sinner entrance to the Halls of Judgment? Paradise and immortality were for those who deserved it. As for Seth, he lived in sin. Ten years old and already given the title of High Priest; he was Pharaoh’s right hand, disobeying his king at his doorstep. Young as he was, desire for power had made him Pharaoh’s property and he understood what it meant; never to touch nor be touched by anyone but the Living God of Khemet. But even Pharaoh’s word was powerless against the storm that arose when his heart sighed for someone else. No, his path was not paved toward the Gods.
“Where will you go then?” Seto asked, eyes already closing from lack of sleep. The sky was beginning to darken, so the blue lotuses disappeared to make way for the white ones. Stars dotted the sky, shining brilliantly like a prophecy.
“I don’t know.” Seth replied, letting Seto rest on his lap. He ran his fingers through soft brown hair thoughtfully. He did know, actually, where those went that did not pass Judgment. The jaw of the Devourer awaited them in the shadows.
“I’ll come too.” Seto murmured. He smiled as he looked over the river again. The white flowers had emerged, floating like stars across the water. “Look, the white flowers are out.”
“Purity.” Seth reached a plucked the closest flower and gently shook the drops of water away. “The cleansers of people’s sins.”
“Even mine?” Seto asked gently, as if he was afraid his breath might disturb the still quivering petals of the lotus.
Seth leaned down and pressed his lips against the other’s cheek. “I don’t believe you have any sins, dearest.”
“Don’t I? Then, I must be a very uninteresting person for having no sins.”
“But that is exactly what these blossoms say. The simplest souls are often the most beautiful. Here…” The young priest closed his fingers around the lotus and snuggled close to the other, crushing the petals. The scent of fresh lotus permeated through the air, heady and intoxicating, smelling of clouds and purity. Seth brought his hand along his beloved’s face and he could feel warm lips brushing across his neck sending glorious sensations through his body. This must be how it was like to be pure and free of sin, like a blissful white tumble.
Immortality and purity, they reminded Seth of one White Dragon from long ago—a creature of legends. Something so heartbreakingly beautiful roaming this wretched world gave him hope where there had only been inconsolable woe. It seemed that in the endless sky, he had an advocate and lifelong companion. However great was unhappiness, there was was still the beauty of these moments blended with blue and white into a shade of perfection.
And with this knowledge, he pressed close to his beloved and fell asleep on the banks of the Nile, comforted by the scent of lotus and the sound of his beating heart, sighing briefly in his sleep a rush of breeze overhead swept over them a wave of white light from a dazzling wingtip.
And the white lotuses opened their petals.