No Beards

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    ***Nico***
        I was relieved to not be pharaoh, but I was afraid that Hazel would be angry at me. I had never told her that I wasn't into women and that I had no care to rule the kingdom. I didn't want to be a living god, worshipped by the people, but I felt guilty for forcing Hazel to take up the duties that I should be doing.
       Hazel was chatting with Piper when I came into her chambers. "Sister," I said, nervously playing with my hands. "Thank you so much."
       "You never told me that you liked men," she said, her voice somewhat reproachful.
         "I didn't want to say anything," I said. "I always hoped that father would have another son that could take my place."
     Hazel got up and tackled me with a hug. "I would never hate you," she said. "Horus was seduced by Set. He still rules over the gods."
I sighed. Maybe I needed to open up more. I was so afraid of sharing my secrets that I had become as conversational as a mummy. "So, Piper is helping you prepare for your ceremony tonight?" I asked.
Hazel nodded. "We're trying to decide on the image Hazel wants to embrace," Piper said. "I still think you should try a fake beard. Pharaohs sport beards in public."
"I am not wearing a fake beard," Hazel said, folding her arms in front of her.
         Piper shrugged. "Whatever you wish," she said.
       Like usual, Piper was wearing the least amount of make-up that she could get away with. While court women among extended their kohl far beyond their eyes, her's only lined them. "Silena is coming to help me," she said. "Nico, we need you to get dressed up too. Drew is already finished with Bianca."
     I sighed. At least Drew wasn't my body servant. I'd probably go Sekhmet if I had to be around her everyday. Piper's older sister, Silena, arrived. She was slim with black hair and large, warm brown eyes that entranced the men at court. I wished I had eyes like that. "Nico, Pharaoh," she said, inclining her head to me and Hazel in turn.
     She turned towards Piper. "Are we going all out?" she asked.
Piper nodded. Silena's face lit up. My sister sat dutifully while they fawned over her, Silena looking the happiest of the three as she dusted gold onto Hazel's eyelids and dabbed kyphi on her neck and wrists. When they were finished with my sister, she looked like a goddess. "No one can doubt you are worthy of being a Pharaoh now," Silena said.
"There's more to bring a pharaoh than looking pretty," Piper said.
Silena snorted. "Some pharaohs do even less," she said.
I threw her a look. She was insulting my ancestors! "It's your turn," Silena said.
I groaned, but by the time they were finished with me, I admitted it wasn't as bad as I had envisioned. My linen was starkly white, but it made my skin look warmer-as if I didn't spend all my time with Osiris in the Underworld. My kyphi was heavier on the pine than my sister's and the thick kohl on my eyelids would protect my eyes from the sun.
"You will do great," Piper told my sister, who was turning a bit green now.
Hazel nodded, but she looked so small and vulnerable that I almost screamed that she didn't have to do it and I would take up the crook and flail. Before I could, someone knocked the door. "Come in," Hazel commanded.
Jason came in and he bowed before my sister and then I. "It's time," he said.
My sister stood up and with her chin held high, she looked like the pharaoh I could never be. Jason's lips curled towards Ra's sun chariot. "No beard?" he asked.
"No beard," my sister promised.
She led the way out of the room and ordered that a chariot he brought to her. We were heading to the Temple of Amun-Ra for her coronation ceremony, so that she could show her devotion to the gods.
     The streets were crowded with people trying to catch a glimpse of Hazel, who was commanding her own chariot. She loved horses and besides, she wanted to prove that she was just as capable as any male pharaoh. When we arrived at the temple, she dismounted her chariot. I was in the chariot behind her and my feet touched the earth after the charioteer, Percy, reined in the horses.
I could hear the people chanting Hazel's name and she was suddenly bowing before an altar to Amun-Ra and praying. After she was finished with her prayer, she stood up and walked over to Octavian. His jaws was clenched, as if this personally pained him, but a fake smile was plastered over his face. Only those who knew him well, like I, would know that he wanted nothing more than to be pharaoh himself.
My sister kneeled before him and he placed the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt on her head. She stood up and he handed her the crook and flail. She turned to the crowd and raised them. I thanked Horus silently as the crowd cheered.
The rest of the ceremony was a blur of rituals and faces, both kind and disguised as kind. When we returned to the palace, my sister sat at the center of the table on the dais. Bianca and I sat on both sides of her. A few courtiers and high-ranking soldiers were allowed at our table. Unfortunately, as he was the most powerful priest in Egypt, Octavian sat across from her. The high priest of Amun-Ra was eating slowly and examining everyone carefully, as if he was trying to find out how to make the best out of the situation.
       To my right, Dakota was drinking too much beer. Jason was trying to stop him, but to no avail. Percy was chatting with his brother Tyson, one of the three generals invited at our table. Rachel, the priestess of Isis, was slowly eating honeyed dates. "You did well, Hazel," I whispered to her.
    She turned to me and behind her mask of confidence, I saw sorry. She was worried that she would be a bad ruler. She was anxious that the gods would curse us and the Nile would continue to not flood. She was worried that she would be the last pharaoh of Egypt. I was worried too, but I knew that her concern was a sign that she'd make a brilliant pharaoh.

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