Title: Witness of Love and Gods
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Alexander the Great (movie)
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Alexander, Bagoas, Cassander, Cleitus, Crateros, Hephaistion, Ptolemy
Pairings: Alexander/Hephaistion, Hephaistion/Ptolemy (implied Alexander/Roxanne, Ptolemy/Thais)
Summary: Movie-fic. Ptolemy told much about Alexander and his life to the generations after, but there are also many stories that shall never be repeated...
Warnings: m/m -relationship, violence, character’s death
Beta: Phaelas (phaelas) (You made the work (some twice) with such dedication I can only envy! My sincere thanks to you, for without you I could have never done this.) and Kitt of Lindon (thank you for your work in the later chapters!)
Disclaimer: None of the characters or places belong to me, but to the history and Intermedia Films.
Feedback: Yes, please, be so kind! Please review, I would love to know your opinion.
Author’s Notes: English is not my mother tongue, so it isn’t perfect. Please inform me of spelling and grammar errors, so I can correct them!
As theme-songs, Charon’s “In Trust of No One” and “If” (both from the album “The Dying Daylights”)
About Witness of Love and Gods: Oh, well, what can I say. This probably never happened – or do we know that for sure? I was merely playing with a thought, and it became a story. Hopefully it comes up even half as well as in my own mind.
It was a nice detail that Ptolemy was a narrator in the film, and that sort of woke up my inspiration. So, there is a plenty of things he could have let out from his account. For these are not things that you tell forward lightly.
Can’t tell you more, or I’ll ruin the entire plot! Enjoy!
Chapters and their status: Here below you see the writing process of the story’s chapters. If there is no text after the chapter’s name, then it is finished and checked (until someone of my dear readers points me out some mistake, or I will do some updating…) so, check this page, because here I will mark the dates of the updates…
Chapter 1 (re-written 24th of October 2005)
Chapter 2 (re-edited 24th of October 2005)
Chapter 3 (re-edited 24th of October 2005)
Chapter 4 (re-written 25th of October 2005)
Chapter 5 (re-edited 25th of October 2005)
Chapter 6 (re-edited 27th of October 2005)
Chapter 7 (re-edited 27th of October 2005)
Chapter 8 (re-written 28th of October 2005)
Chapter 9 (re-edited 28th of October 2005)
Chapter 10 (re-written 29th of October 2005)
Author’s Note: The italic parts inside # -marks are “written parts”. Just to make it a little easier for you people to separate them from the thoughts :)
This chapter was updated and at some parts re-written to its proper form 24th of October 2005.
An old man sat beside a table of marble. The rustle of pen against a paper was the only sound in the room, the world around hidden away if by some magic. The wind swayed the curtains around the wide windows opening to a balcony, making the man raise his head. He stared out at the world beyond those windows, his eyes distant. He did not see what the others would have seen: his mind was in a realm of the past, his eyes scanning a scene long forgotten.
But he never forgot. He was the one keeping the memories alive. And sometimes – like today – he lived through those events again. Again and again…
With a faint smile, the man shifted his hand, his fingers encountering an object on the table, on a top of a pile of blank papers. His fingers caressed a simple bracelet, made of small pearls. Even if they had been dimmed by the years, many of them still held some of their original colour.
He caressed the bracelet between his fingers, his smile disappearing and expression growing thoughtful. He glanced at the paper before him and frowned. “Not a good start,” he murmured, shaking his head. “It has to be special, different. Like this, it doesn’t do justice to him...” The man took the paper into his free hand, and then crushed it in his fist and tossed it aside. Leaning against the table and crossing his hands, he stared at the object in his fingers, his eyes tracing every inch of the bracelet. They were familiar to him, every pearl and peace of leather: every stain and scratch. I own such riches, enough to make a man mad, but yet I cherish this little thing above all those. It could seem ironic; and so it is. So very ironic. But how could anyone else understand such emotions that this piece of history awakes in me? None could. Or perhaps one. But even his love was drowned by his vision: his dreams.
The man ran his eyes over the blank paper in front of him. So many choices. So many possibilities. But back then, I had very little choices. I did what I had to, and what I thought right. We both did. But even now I do not know if I did the right thing. How did my actions affect the events of history? Or should I say, our actions? But it was me who began it all, and kept him going on and on…
He leaned back in his chair and brought his right hand to his lips in a thoughtful gesture. The bracelet caressed his lips, its roughened surface reminding him of the days long gone. His eyes narrowed as he again stared at the paper before him. Why not to go straight to the core? What am I hiding from? Alexander is dead, and all I hope is to get his forgiveness when we shall meet again in the House of Death. But now, I have no reason to avoid the truth.
A smile crept into his face as he put down the bracelet. His hand reached for the pen, tipping it to the bottle of ink, and then he moved it over to the paper. It hovered there for a moment, as he searched for the words to begin with. He glanced at the bracelet again, then back at the paper, and finally lowered the pen.
#They speak of Alexander as a great man with a vision. He desired to change things, to alter the world. And so he did, that none can deny. But people tend to forget that one man does not conquer the world alone, though one man may shine in such way that people only see him, and not the ones who follow him.#
The pen halted, and the grey eyes that had seen many years glanced out of the windows again. Time passed, a lonesome bird flying past the scenery, and finally the man smiled. Now he knew what to say, what to write. The truth. Always, the truth. He had lived a lie long enough.
#The truth is that there were many others. Men who fought Alexander’s wars, generals who commanded the forces. Wives, slaves, servants… Thousands of people marched with Alexander, but only few of them are remembered beside Alexander’s glory. To those people, momentary glory and riches were enough. They needed no fame, no everlasting name in history, or at least not the kind of fame that Alexander desired to achieve.
But what mattered most – to Alexander and even to myself – was none of those. Not the uncounted miles we saw, not the people we conquered, not the riches we gained. What truly kept Alexander on his road – kept him away from the madness that his dreams tried to drive him into – was not glory, nor wisdom. It was love. Love of one man that burned brighter and stronger than any sun.
A man that was both feared and loved. Hated by many, trusted by few. But I was one of those who saw beneath all the layers of guarded silence. I touched the heart that only one had before me, and which no other touched after me.
I loved something that should have never been mine.
It all began at Gaugamela, on the eve of one of the greatest battles of our history, so many years from now. And yet I remember it like yesterday...
The doubting words of the generals, Alexander’s excited voice as he explained his plan to us. He was the only one of us who truly believed we could defeat the Persian army. Those who did not speak up against him were simply too dazed to do so, or merely in shock. Only one of the men seemed to be content enough to keep his silence, his supporting gaze glued to Alexander. At times, Alexander would look back at him, and each time his expression changed completely for a moment. I did not wonder at this, of course. It was to be expected.
But what I didn’t expect was the fact that I would be the one to stare at that man likewise, someday…#
“Ptolemy.” Blue eyes blinked, a warm smile welcoming the other man.
“Hephaistion,” Ptolemy greeted in return, nodding. He glanced around before turning back to the dark-haired man beside him. “So, Alexander is not with you?”
“I believe you can see that much,” Hephaistion answered, still smiling.
“Ah,” Ptolemy breathed, a small smile making its way to his face as well. “You know, even in the meeting of generals, he always says your name differently. With more... emphasis. With more meaning.”
“Who?” Hephaistion requested, his face revealing nothing of his thoughts.
“Alexander,” Ptolemy leaned closer, chuckling softly. “You are well aware of what I am speaking of.”
“Perhaps,” Hephaistion answered rather vaguely.
“The others will also be aware of it, sooner or later. What will you tell them then?”
“Depends of who is asking,” Hephaistion replied, his gaze boring into Ptolemy’s. “But as for you...”
Ptolemy waited, but Hephaistion fell silent, turning his gaze away. Feeling rather irritated, Ptolemy shifted, trying to draw Hephaistion’s attention. “I have known you both since we were only boys. He loved you already then.”
Hephaistion indeed turned to look at Ptolemy, his expression strange. “Why tell me something I already know?”
Ptolemy fell back, stunned. Then he smiled again, reaching out to give Hephaistion’s shoulder a squeeze. “Remind me not to challenge you into a verbal match again. You have such talent that you will easily put me into shame.” He hesitated for a moment, letting his hand drop back to his side. “You know, you should use that skill more often: there are some who think less of you than is healthy for them.”
“You mean they think that Alexander favours me, and therefore lets me to stay among his generals? That my ‘skills in bed’ are enough to keep me on my place in command?” Hephaistion asked, his voice somewhat amused.
“It is a serious matter,” Ptolemy warned. “Many would kill to be in your position.”
“And what exactly is my position, Ptolemy?” Hephaistion requested, his smile completely gone.
“That –” Ptolemy started, but then fell silent, letting a group of soldiers walk past them. His eyes sought Hephaistion’s, and the other man nodded, understanding.
“Well, I see you tomorrow, then,” Hephaistion said finally. “May the gods be with us, and bring us all back safely.”
Ptolemy nodded, watching as Hephaistion disappeared into the commotion of the camp.
#Like I said to him, I had known both him and Alexander since we were all youths. We had grown together, been in a school of life together, learned how to write and fight together. Back then, among all of us rascals, Hephaistion was the voice of reason – a fact that didn’t change much as we grew up. What changed, however, was Alexander’s feelings for him: his friendship turned into a deeper affection at an early age, and soon into a pure love. I am not sure if his father, king Philip, knew of this, but his mother wasn’t too happy to learn the truth.
Back then, Alexander committed himself completely to Hephaistion. No other, boy or girl, man or woman, was able to get through to his heart, or even to his thoughts. Not to speak of his bed, either – in there was a place only for one person, and it was none of those unlucky up-and-coming admirers who tried to win the young prince for themselves. Of course that changed later as Alexander became a king, but as a youth he was devoted to his one love.
Even as a prince, Alexander could have taken what he wanted from the world. Why instead stick around a youth’s affection? Love, I told myself, knowing Hephaistion well myself. It was not difficult to like him, once you gained his friendship. But the absolute bliss of being with him… I knew nothing of it back then.#
The night had fallen, only the lights of the campfires penetrating the darkness. Most men were already asleep, only the sentries and most uneasy people awake. Ptolemy played with a strap of leather while sitting beside a fire near to his tent. He let out a bored sigh and tossed the strap away, leaning back on the ground. As his eyes searched the darkness, he suddenly spotted a figure passing on the edge of the golden glow. “Hephaistion,” he called out, making the other stop.
Hephaistion stood on his marks, his stature speaking of frustration as he turned to look back at the one calling out for him. Ptolemy got up from his place quickly, stepping around the fire to reach his long-time friend. Hephaistion didn’t look at him anymore as he advanced on the other general, staring at the darkness instead.
“I thought you to be with Alexander tonight,” Ptolemy said, daring the line between them.
Hephaistion snorted, looking sideways at Ptolemy. “I could be,” he finally uttered. There was a strange undertone in his voice, his body tense with some suppressed emotion.
Ptolemy merely nodded, not wishing to push the other man. He had absolutely no right to trade further along this path. ”Would you sit with me, then? You seem uneasy.”
“What do you worry about?” Hephaistion asked as he sat down beside Ptolemy.
“I do not know, to be honest,” the other man replied, staring at the fire. “I just... Maybe it is what Cleitus said. That we cannot win. But Alexander was very certain, on the other hand.”
“You doubt your king already?” Hephaistion asked with a laugh, but then grew serious again. “He wishes to conquer fear,” he whispered.
“Fear?” Ptolemy asked, not understanding.
“He will conquer much, but fear...” Hephaistion muttered, leaning his chin to his drawn-up knees. “But I believe in him. Even in my death, I will.”
“I do not doubt that,” Ptolemy replied, his eyes upon the man beside him. “You have always believed in him, no matter what. But what about then when he is wrong? What will you do then?”
“He will make the wrong be right,” Hephaistion answered, turning his head so he could look at Ptolemy. “Or… I do not know. ”
“You could lead him back to right again,” Ptolemy suggested. “He is too bull-headed to listen anyone else, anyway.”
“Perhaps,” Hephaistion smiled, and then stared at the fire again. Ptolemy followed the other’s example, and together they waited the night to pass.
#As we sat there together, in the darkness of a night without the moon, I did not know how much those discussions between us would affect our future. Even if we did not see it then – and how could we have? – those words perfectly reflected the events that we were forced through later. And How right my words were. Today, I do not know which I would prefer to do more: to curse those words into the worst hell possible, or praise the god that sent them to me. But it was not only the words; it was Hephaistion’s love for Alexander and Alexander’s love for his dream that drove us to our path.
And it was only the beginning. Before we saw the end, we were too far gone to turn back. And to be honest, I never wished to turn back. It is like tasting fruits from a box that has poisoned ones among the clean ones: when you get into its taste, you cannot let go. You want more, and all you can do is to pray that your hand does not pick a poisoned one.
But even today, I have no regrets. And I know, deep inside, that neither did Hephaistion.#
to be continued...