So... this is just a little something that was whirling around in my head in the past few days, so I decided to write it down and everything. Basically, it's an os of the moments that pass between "I know the truth" and... well, you know, everything that happens afterwards. I just really like the character of Amneris -she seems like such a strong person and I wanted to, like pay tribute to her. She would've deserved a happy ending but it's just not meant to be.
Pls review -I'd love to hear what you think about this...
Also I'm thinking about maybe making this a whole story but I'm not sure about that yet. (And I'm currently already writing two fanfictions and a book so... that's that lol.) But perhaps... sometime in the future.. who knows?
Moments of Truth
There's a short moment of truth.
Right now, right here as the doors open to reveal him in his white garb. A wavering in his eyes, a flutter in her heart—in her stance. He looks guilty for a second, absolutely unhappy with his fate. And she wants to turn around and cry without the eyes of her maidens on her face and his eyes on her back. She wants to shout at him that he is breaking her heart with his silence. That he is breaking it even more although he's already crushed it when falling in love with her handmaiden. She wants to jump at him and scream at him: How—How! –could he do this to her?! How could he break her heart so knowingly, so approbatory?! How—and when—and why!
But instead, she forces herself to smile a little and she says—quietly so her voice won't break, "Radames."
The silence afterwards weighs on her shoulders like a heavy burden. He doesn't smile—doesn't even force himself to. That's how unhappy he is.
Then he says, "Princess."
And it's enough for her to know that they will never be happy. He loves her too much and she's too heartbroken. Her longing for his love is too big and the fulfilling of her longing is too unrealistic, and yet there's nothing that she can do. They are both trapped in this hideous attempt of a life—in this sorry excuse for a marriage.
"I suppose we must go now, Princess," he says and steps back a little, wordlessly offering her the spot next to him.
Princess. Never once has she hated that word—that title—more than she does right now. Her name is Amneris and he knows it—he's used it before—so why can't he use it now?
"You look lovely," he tells her, and she swallows hard behind her veil.
He can't even see her through the thin cloth of the veil, she thinks, this is just polite conversation—something's that he feels obliged to do, not something that he wants to do. Just like marrying her.
"You don't look too bad yourself," she says and even manages a giggle.
In her ears, it sounds like a bad lie, but she knows that he doesn't notice. She's become far too good at masking her feelings and putting on a show. She's become far too good at hiding behind satin shawls and satin sashes and satin gowns. She's become far too good at designing dresses that are made solely to distract from the emotions flashing across her face from time to time. And with this particular dress—her own wedding gown—she's outdone herself; this one can easily distract from any emotion at all—no matter how obviously they are shown.
"Are you nervous?" he asks without much emotion in his voice.
It pains her.
"Of course," she answers. "It's my wedding day, after all."
She says, 'my wedding day' intentionally, half-heartedly trying to give him a hint that she knows.
She doesn't want him to feel bad—she could never want him to feel bad. She's too heartbroken to feel such strange things as a longing for revenge of sorts.
Right now, she's just hurt. Hurt that she couldn't step up for herself; that she couldn't step up to him and confront him. Hurt that he isn't in love with her anymore—or perhaps never was. But he can't help it, she supposes; "Love is a curious little thing," her mother used to say.
Tears well up in her eyes at that thought; what would her mother have done in a situation like this? She will never know.
Anyway. So, he can't help that he's not in love with her but with someone else. He can't help any of this. She knows that now, but she also knows that sometime soon, she won't know anymore.
Anger will eventually take the better of her. Perhaps tonight—their wedding night—when he will refuse her like he's refused her before. Or perhaps he won't refuse her and that will make it even worse. Because then he will take the one thing that's not yet taken from her—her innocence, her youth, her virginity—without feeling love—and perhaps even without feeling anything at all.
She muses that she will probably flee the room right afterwards to cry. She wouldn't do so in front of him—of course not! But she would have to cry, of that she is sure. The very thought of it brings tears to her eyes.
"Are you nervous?"
He turns just a little. "I suppose so."
But the only emotion she can make out in his features is unhappiness.
They slowly near the double door at the end of the hallway where two guards are standing upright and at attention.
"Well," she's wringing her hands underneath her veil. "I should certainly hope so."
The laughter in her voice sounds so very unlike her that he turns to her with a surprised look. For a second, she's frozen in shock. Her breath hitches. "I mean, I-I-"
He recoils a little. "What do you- I mean, what are you implying? What-"
His mouth snaps shut. They stand still in the corridor with the unmoving guard to each side of the door. They stand still and she's suddenly this close to breaking down in tears. Her hands are trembling as she raises them to her mouth, to her suddenly dry lips.
"H-How else could you—support me when we go out there? If you didn't know how I feel," she forces, her voice shaking so hard that it's almost breaking.
She turns around, away from him, to proceed down the corridor.
"We should hurry," she interrupts him forcefully. "The people are waiting for their prince and princess."
She doesn't know how she can force herself to move her feet forwards, but somehow, it works—although she feels as though she's just going to cave in at every step. He used her name. He said her name—though not out of sympathy or—Gods forbid! –love, but out of shock and fear. Fear that she might know something.
She tries to ignore him.
Her name out of his mouth brings tears to her eyes. She ignores them.
She ignores his plead.
And then she can't ignore him anymore. She stands rooted to the ground.
"Radames, please," she echoes. And after a second, she adds, "Let's get this done and over with."
He looks a little taken aback. "What was that?"
"Nothing," she hurries forwards. "I didn't say anything."
She feels control slipping away, feels how she's losing her nerves and her cool and everything she usually can hide so very well. She feels like everything's coming to her now—as though her feelings are just catching up with her. Her heart is pounding so hard in her chest that she's afraid she might just drop dead right then and there.
"Yes, you did. You said-" he stops. "What did you say?"
She shakes her head. "Nothing."
"Yes, yes, you did," he's suddenly right beside her, one hand ghosting over her elbow as though he's trying to figure out whether he should hold her back or not—whether he can touch her or not.
Before, he never hesitated to take her arm. But now… now, everything's changed. He's changed and she's changed and- and she's changed them.
"You can tell me."
She almost scoffs at that. Almost.
"There's nothing to tell," she says slowly. "Let's go, Radames, please. I don't want to keep my father waiting."
His shoulder slump a little. Is he actually offended that she's not telling him the truth? She wants to laugh right in his face—and then turn around to flee into her room where she will send all the maidens away so she can sink down on her bed and cry herself to sleep—or to death, maybe.
She winces a little at that thought. Has she really sunk this low?
"Will you tell me?" he asks her. "Later today, maybe? Ever?"
She shakes her head but says nothing. As they approach the end of the corridor, the two guards step forwards and open the double door with those stoic looks on their faces. A small flight of stairs leads to the short, roofed passage. Another flight of stairs, though a slightly longer one, then leads to another double door. And behind that door waits the ceremony—waits the future. However twisted and shadowed and wronged it may be.
"I wish you all the best," sounds a voice a few metres away and she turns around. "You will make a great Pharaoh, I think."
There stands, a basket of laundry under her arm, a young woman. Her maroon skin is glowing in the sunlight and her brown eyes pierce into her own.
For a moment, she's stunned into silence. Then, she clears her throat and, although as they approach the door, her impending tears weigh down on her voice, she says, "Thank you."
Though she's not sure whether the woman really meant that. She's a slave after all and the slaves usually don't sympathise with the princess. But then again, there's always an exception—or two, in this case. With her, as well.
Radames says nothing at all. Not even a forced 'Thank you'.
He offers her his arm as they reach the landing of the stairs to help her, but she doesn't feel like taking his arm and she can't reach him through the veil, anyway. So, she makes her way upstairs without any help, on her own, shaky legs. She gathers her skirts and stares at the steps in front of her, careful not to trip over the veil. For a split second, she sees herself stumble and flail about and finally, fall down the stairs again. She sees her head banging against the edge of the bottommost step and hears the crack of her neck echo in her mind. Choosing that would mean choosing a way out. But it would also mean admitting cowardice, and she is anything but a coward.
Stopping right in front of the door, she listens to the sounds inside the building—the quiet murmuring of some people, a coughing fit of her father. It pains her to know that he won't be with her for much longer. Like her mother before, he will leave her, and she will be alone in a marriage with a man that doesn't love her.
Slowly, Radames moves forwards to place a gentle knock on the door. The conversations inside fade out, there's a moment of complete silence. Then, the music begins, and the door opens. She doesn't recognise the melody although she probably should. She can't tell note from note, instrument from instrument—it's all blurred together in her mind, changing key and tempo every second.
At the end of the hall sits her father, a weak yet genuine smile on his lips, surrounded by some maidens and court members. He looks sicker than ever but also happier than she's seen him in a long time. She wonders if he would be able to tell that she's miserable, was she to lift her veil. And if he'd ignore it for the sake of his own content.
The music swells just a little. The notes and rests and dynamic suggests—no expects—them to move forwards but they both stand rooted to the ground.
Behind her lays everything she longs for; a different outcome, a different ending, a past that can't be changed but a future that lays in her own hands. And in front of her lays the inevitable, the future that she doesn't want, the marriage that won't make her happy, the love that she will never get.
Her hands clasp in front of her as she steps over the threshold. Now, there's no behind anymore. Nothing to choose, nothing to change.
The sound of their steps—her heels against the stone floor—is drowned out by the music, though not completely, and it seems to her that the key of the music clashes with that of their steps. But then the music stops, and they shudder to a halt some metres away from her father.
He opens his arms and smiles but his sickness forbids his arms to stay in the air for long and he slumps back into the throne. "That I get to live this day! My beautiful daughter to be married."
She tries to blink away the tears that are welling up in her eyes and is once again grateful for the veil that is shielding her face from curious looks.
He turns to Radames. "And you, dear Captain. You-"
But another coughing fit interrupts him and he squirms on his throne for a moment, trying to compose himself. He places a hand on his heaving chest, raising a handkerchief to his mouth.
Then, he manages to say, "Well, let's proceed with the ceremony, then."
And as he recites the vows, the words to tie the two of them together, the words that once sounded so sweet and so fulfilling to her, the words that now make her stomach churn, there's not a single cough interrupting him—although she suddenly wishes there was.
"As witnessed by the Gods and all of Egypt, I pronounce you man and wife. May your lives be filled forever with the joy of this moment."
She dips her chin low as Radames turns to her. His hands reach out to lift the veil over her head. Their eyes meet and she's frozen right then and there. His face seems to be a blank page, an unemotional wall. And her face is caught in a twister of all the emotions his expression is lacking. Pain and grieve and shame and an unhappiness so severe that it's making it hard for her to breath. Truth is written all over her face and he is shocked to find it right before him—in her eyes and her lips and her tearstained cheeks.
Her tongue dips between her lips to catch a tear.
The moment of truth has expanded. It has become minutes of truth—an hour of truth. A truth that hurts.
She finds herself unable to look away as realisation dawns on him and his eyes widen in shock.
"You may kiss the bride."
She tries to swallow down her tears as he leans in, reluctantly and shellshocked by what he's learnt just then.
Closing her eyes, she turns her head just a small bit and his lips meet her cheek. Her mouth opens in a silent sob.
On the other side of the hall, a door is flung open and crashes against the wall.
"Your Majesty!" pants a guard. "The Nubian King has escaped!"
As chaos erupts around her, she steps away from him. Her heart breaks when she turns to flee the room and he doesn't even try to hold her back.
The truth weighs down her every step as she hurries out into the courtyard and past a group of a few laundrywomen and into the corridor that leads to her chambers.
The door clicks shut behind her and she's alone.
Tears are flowing down her cheeks and, burying her face in her hands, Amneris cries.