Like the Desert Wind
Disclaimer: I do not own Cleopatra's Daughter.
"Are you ready?" A familiar voice asked. I turned to see Julia standing there, looking at me expectantly. I nodded and she smiled, looping or arms together as we walked to the baths. We were met by Gallia and Octavia, who for once would allow herself to indulge a bit. Gallia and Julia had to tear her away from her charity to talk her into coming. Octavia smiled when she saw me. It was a motherly smile. It made me remember that mothers look at their children like they are more precious than all the gold in Egypt. Someone used to look at me like that. I smiled back, glad she was here.
Gallia led us to the caldarium and we all stripped down to our linens. We slipped into the freezing bath. Julia gave a slight scream as she went in. We all tried to stifle our laughter.
We sat comfortably and chatted about the wedding, the gossip in Rome, though Octavia wouldn't take part of that. We moved on to the caldarium and then to the tepidarium. As we swam in the cool water I stayed in the corner and looked out onto my adopted city. I had never noticed how beautiful the white stones were against the blue sky. Or how the Cyprus trees rose high above anything else. Or maybe I just hadn't let myself notice. But now I would be leaving Rome.
I sighed and slid down under the water and let it wash away all of my thoughts and all of my doubts. I was ready for today.
Julia slipped my chiton over my head. I had insisted that I would not wear a toga to my wedding, but instead a mix of things. I would wear a Greek chiton like my ancestors had. I wrapped my red sash around my shoulders and to hang at my hips. It was roman. I straightened my diadem in my tumbling dark curls. I slid my gold armlets which were a gift from my parents onto my arms. It would keep them with me during the ceremony. I turned to the woman who during these last few years have become my family. They were sisters, friends and mothers.
"Who do I look?" I asked, turning so they could see the dress from every angle.
Julia looked at me and then pulled out something from her bag. It was the red silk that I had given to her for her wedding. It was my mother's silk.
I gave her a watery smile as she draped it over my head. All three women stared at me. I turned to the mirror. I gasped.
"You look-" Octavia said quietly.
I looked like Egypt.
My pearl crown peeked out from my veil, reminding me who I was. I smiled. For a moment I could almost imagine that I was back in Alexandria. I fought back the tears that threatened to escape and turned to the women.
Octavian himself stood waiting for me when we arrived at Juba's villa. He had recovered from a recent bought of illness and as a favor to me and to Juba, and with pressing by Octavia had agreed to take the place of my father for the ceremony. I had long made my peace with him. He smiled slightly when he saw me.
"You look beautiful, Princess." He said, using my title. I smiled faintly. He took my arm and led me to the garden where the ceremony would take place. I heard the crowds of people, but I kept my eyes down. All of Rome seemed to be there. I was vaguely aware of myself being led down the path and when I looked up I saw Juba standing there staring at me. He looked so handsome in his white tunic. I smiled at him and his smile was so radiant I couldn't help but sigh in happiness. When we reached ezch other I took his hands.
"You look beautiful, Selene." HE whispered. I had heard this from many people today, but it was different coming from him. I smiled tenderly, squeezing his hands.
I wasn't aware of anything else around us. I could vaugley hear a man's voice speaking and I could hear the cheers. And then Juba pulled me to him and kissed me. The cheering got louder.
We were lead to the banquet where a huge feast had been laid out. The entire table was overflowing and the guests flocked to it. Wine was poured, food was given out and you could hear the joyous laughter. Juba and I hadn't let go of each other.
Marcellus stood up, wine goblet raised. The crowd went quiet raising their glasses with him.
"To King Juba and Queen Selene! May your marriage be happy and may the gods bless you both." HE said, smiling affectionately at me. The entire table echoed his toast.
I looked around at my friends and family and smiled. Marcellus was right. I was blessed.
We were leaving right after the wedding for Mauritania. The boat was already loaded with trunks and belongings. Augustus had delivered a trunk of gold coins to the ship this morning. It would help us rebuild our new land. A wedding gift, he had said.
I had already said goodbye to everyone. Hopefully one day I may see them again. But there was one last thing I had to do.
I walked down the familiar path to the marble building. I was still in my wedding dress and the red silk flew behind me like a banner. I walked up the marble steps looking at the building. I had designed it. Hopefully I could build our kingdom like this. The Egyptian architecture contrasted against the roman buildings nearby. I smiled at how much it stood out. So much like we had when we first came. I sighed at the thought that my life changes like the wind. But maybe it wasn't a bad thing. I slipped inside. It was empty.
I walked to the marble sarcophagus that stood in the center of the room. The statue of my brother looked down upon me as I entered. I knelt and placed my forehead onto the cool stone. A single tear slid down my cheek. I would have to leave him. I thought. And for a long time I stood there, taking it all in. So much had happened since he had died. I took a deep breath and stood. The boat will be leaving soon.
"Selene?" Juba called softly. Of course he would know I was here. I thought.
I went toward his voice but something at the last moment made me stop to take one last look. And for one moment I could see my brother standing there, smiling, looking as young and strong as he had before he died. My parents and Ptolemy came behind him. My father placed his hands on Alexander's shoulders. They all smiled at me and Alexander raised his hand in a wave.
I waved back. "Good bye." I whispered and the vision disappeared.
"Are you ready, dear?" Juba called again.
I smiled. The room seemed brighter all of a sudden.
"Yes." I said. And this time I meant it.
I absolutely love this book and I thought there needed to be some stories for it. If anyone is interested in it it's called Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.