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
Author’s Notes: Here we shall finally get some real action into this story (not that kind of action, you who are interpreting this statement with a dirty imagination…)! This is a good time as any to remind people that Hephaistion is a warrior, after all (and in a big trouble, thanks to a certain lover(s) of his…). Things are just starting to get serious here. Have a “fun” time, and remember to review, as usual!
Many thanks to Kitt of Lindon of betaing this!
#There are days which you do not wish to remember. But even more regrettable are the days which you do not even wish to exist. The day when Alexander caught me with Hephaistion was one of them. But even more I now hate the day after, when I finally came to realise the depth of my plans – and their effects to the people I cared about. I should have seen it coming, I know now. I should have stayed with him. But I made a wrong conclusion, and Hephaistion paid for it – almost with his life.#
A new day was not starting well. After leaving Hephaistion’s rooms the previous night, Ptolemy had wished to forget all about the stressing events of the day – and the fact Alexander was now with his lover, most likely doing something along the lines Ptolemy very much yearned for. So he had went to his own quarters, woken Thais, and made love to her. But it had been nothing like Ptolemy had wanted. His thoughts remained on Hephaistion – even as he knew they should have not – and his moment of closeness ended up being a pale substitute for something he truly wanted.
After Thais had fallen back to sleep, Ptolemy had lain in his bed for some hours, unable to rest. Finally he had got back up and dressed, trying to find some comfort in the outside world. He had ended up wandering the city until morning, when he had suddenly “found” company.
“Ptolemy? You have a moment?” came a call through the still, oppressing air.
Ptolemy turned to look behind, almost groaning as he saw Leonnatus and Perdiccas approach him. Nearchus walked some distance behind the two, looking as tired as Ptolemy felt. “Good morning, friends. You are up early,” Ptolemy called out in return. Indeed, the sun hadn’t even risen yet.
“We wished to speak with you before the others would wake up,” Leonnatus confessed, but his eyes were serious under the smile he wore.
“I never knew they meant this early,” Nearchus muttered, holding his head. He had probably had too much wine again, and was now suffering the after-effects.
“And why such a sudden desire to speak with me?” Ptolemy inquired, even if he didn’t want to hear the answer. Curse you, Cassander, if you have spoken to them. But he waited, knowing that he had to play carefully.
“About you and Hephaistion,” Perdiccas answered, glancing at his companions.
Ptolemy kept his face still with an effort, unwilling to let anything slip through for the others to see. I can deny everything. We all know Cassander’s nature, which is not the most reliable one. And Hephaistion would never lie with another…
“Some of the Friends are getting quite nervous of the possibility you two are… gauging Alexander’s actions,” Nearchus continued. “We thought to speak with you before the worse happens. Nothing is planned, of course,” he said quickly, seeing Ptolemy’s expression, “but some are uneasy. I do not have to give you names, naturally.” There was a rueful smile on his face, speaking of distaste over the whole matter.
“So the tension has been building all since Cleitus’ death, and now the atmosphere is getting alarming?” Ptolemy asked carefully. He was almost light-headed, realising that Cassander hadn’t spoken, at least yet.
“Yes, and Cassander is ever ready to speak against you,” Leonnatus revealed. “We all know that Hephaistion is something we should not lay our hands on, but some are convinced that he is a threat. As are you,” he pointed out, his eyes narrowing as he looked at Ptolemy.
“You know me – and Hephaistion. Have known ever since we were children,” Ptolemy said slowly. “Do you not have any faith in us?”
“We are no longer boys, Ptolemy,” Perdiccas said darkly. “We are men, and men have to fight over their position in the society. Men like us… We cannot look back at the past, and by those memories decide to whom we put our trust.”
They all fell silent, looking from one to another, or merely staring at nothingness. When Nearchus finally turned to walk away, the others followed, none daring the silence. Few were awake at this hour, passing the generals with down-cast eyes, trying not to disturb their quiet debate.
“So why do you tell me this?” Ptolemy finally asked as they entered the building they had been housed in the day before. “What is it you want from me? The truth? Or a favour? To know on who’s side I am?”
“We are not sure ourselves,” Nearchus answered for the younger men. “You have been warned before about the risks of your game, and I know you are smart enough to understand them on your own…” There was silence again, Leonnatus and Perdiccas keeping an eye on the other two. “Does Hephaistion know?” Nearchus asked finally. “That he is… suspected.”
Ptolemy said nothing for a moment, his brow furrowing. How much can I tell them? And what are they expecting me to say? “In his position, he has to be always on his guard and careful. He has enemies even without accusations like this.”
“So he is innocent? Is that what you are trying to say?” Nearchus questioned.
“No-one is innocent. Not in the world of ours,” Ptolemy said sarcastically.
They all halted as evident sounds of a struggle echoed on the walls, coming from somewhere in the corridors. The noise went on, making the four generals glance at each other. “Some soldiers, fighting off the last night’s disagreement again,” Perdiccas guessed.
“Or someone who just found his wife occupied,” Leonnatus chuckled. “I have seen such a thing happen before. Her husband wasn’t too happy about it – nor her lover when the husband was done with him.”
“Maybe we should go and take a look, just to be sure,” Nearchus shrugged. “Just to make sure no-one gets killed.” The men laughed and walked towards the sounds, not wishing it to be from any of their units who ended up pressed down to the cold stones.
Hephaistion woke up in the darkness of his room. The sun wasn’t up yet, he was certain, and the silence in the corridors spoke of early hours. A steady breathing came from beside him, a blond hair mingling with his dark one. Alexander was still asleep, his left hand wrapped around Hephaistion’s waist. He actually stayed the night, Hephaistion smiled, watching the other’s sleeping form with shining eyes. Such small display of affection never left him cold, and he would remember this time when Alexander again would leave him alone to his bed.
The king murmured something in his sleep, and then opened his eyes, blinking to restore his vision. His eyes fell upon Hephaistion, a small smile crossing his features. “Good morning,” Hephaistion greeted, stealing boldly a kiss from Alexander’s lips. The king groaned, his hands coming up to fist in his lover’s hair, pulling him back towards his mouth. They kissed slowly, still tasting each other in their mouths after the last night’s lovemaking.
“Good morning indeed,” Alexander agreed, his right hand travelling lower to pull Hephaistion completely on top of him. Their naked skins seemed to melt together, the friction unbearable. Lowering Hephaistion’s head for another kiss, Alexander cupped his rear with his free hand, forcing the other’s body into a slow rhythm above him.
Hephaistion gasped, his hands fisting into the mattress. His legs tried to find some leverage, but Alexander’s hold of him was firm enough to leave him helpless. “God, Alexander…” he moaned, gasping for air. “You…”
Alexander frowned, hunting his lover’s lips with his own, silencing him effectively. Though kissing Hephaistion had never kept him completely silent. But the way the other man moaned and whimpered into your mouth made you only want him more. And Alexander had always wanted Hephaistion – in all ways possible. Pushing up with his own hips, Alexander bit Hephaistion’s lower lip, groaning himself. His lover’s body jerked above him, sending shivers down his spine.
His both hands now on Hephaistion’s bottom, Alexander pulled his mouth free. His eyes locked with the blue ones, holding them prisoner as he worked their bodies a little closer to the edge. When Hephaistion again closed his eyes, a perfect signal of that he was close, Alexander sat up abruptly, still holding Hephaistion’s hips against his. His lover gave him a puzzled look, biting his lips in frustration.
“Alexander…” Hephaistion moaned, bucking against his lover to find release.
“Hush,” Alexander reassured, lifting his hips slightly. It took a short moment before Hephaistion understood what he wanted, and the way the blue eyes grew dilated spoke volumes. With a self-assured smile, Alexander shifted the strong legs straddling him even further apart, and then urged his partner back down. Alexander groaned as Hephaistion welcomed him in, but the other man made no sound, his mind and body beyond that.
Alexander stroked the strong back, feeling the violent shivers under his palm and against his body. He moved experimentally, his smile growing even wider as Hephaistion moaned helplessly, trying to match Alexander’s movement. “My poor Hephaistion! So utterly on my mercy,” Alexander laughed, smoothing the dark hair back. Hephaistion made an annoyed sound, but did not move, his head resting against Alexander’s shoulder. “Come now, love. I know you can do it,” Alexander encouraged, moving his hips upwards again. “And I surely know that you want it,” he teased with a lower voice, kissing the side of the other’s face.
The blue eyes opened, staring at the king with mixed emotions. It took a moment from Hephaistion to collect himself, but finally he managed to sit upright, his hands circling Alexander’s neck for support. Their eyes met again, and after deciding Hephaistion might still need some support, Alexander moved his hands down to the strong buttocks. Hephaistion smiled, giving Alexander one final kiss before setting on a task of pleasuring them both.
Hephaistion came first, as was expected, his body tightly in Alexander’s embrace on the moment of his release. He moaned his lover’s name in a never-ending litany, trying to suppress the shivers shaking his body. After Hephaistion’s body went slack, the perfect skin sweaty beneath his hands, Alexander rolled them around, pressing his lover forcefully to the mattress as he sought out his own completion. Hephaistion merely watched him, his hands ever constant on Alexander’s body, pulling his king closer as Alexander finally came deep within him.
“I love you,” Alexander moaned, kissing the shoulder before him gently. “To the end of my life, I will. And beyond it.”
“As will I,” Hephaistion vowed in return. “In death, in life… it is all the same for me. Only you, Alexander. Only you have my heart…”
They lay together for a while, letting their breathes fall back to normal speed. Then they kissed again, and got up to prepare for another day. Hephaistion washed Alexander in his rooms, allowing the king to leave before tending for himself. “I will see you at the breakfast,” Alexander whispered as he placed a gentle kiss on his lover’s cheek. Then he left the room, heading out for the main hall.
Hephaistion took his time, washing his body clean and searching a clean chiton to wear. He did not bother to put his armour on yet, knowing that he would be forced to wear it soon enough anyway. Then he headed out for the breakfast, knowing that Alexander would not look kindly at him if he delayed too long.
As he walked through the dim corridors, Hephaistion got a sudden feeling that he was being watched. He even halted a few times, but heard nothing but his own breathing. Deciding that he was getting paranoid, he kept walking, forcing his steps back to their normal pace.
Three men came across him abruptly, their appearance too well timed to be an accident. They surrounded him neatly, blocking his path. Hephaistion halted, uncertain what to do, searching the others’ faces in the darkness. One Macedonian and two Asians, he counted, his body bracing itself in alarm. “Let me pass,” he told the men, knowing that the authority in his voice was enough to command an entire cavalry on their places with full speed.
But these men did not move, their eyes remaining glued to him. Hephaistion started to feel far too caught for his own liking, and with an annoyed intake of breathe, he pushed past the two Asians in front of him. Or that was what he set out to do. As soon as he moved forward, the Macedonian behind him shot forward, the elbow connecting Hephaistion’s back being enough to bring the general down to the hard stone floor.
Gasping for air, Hephaistion tried to regain his vision that was currently swimming with black dots. His instincts warned him before his head became clear, and he dodged aside, a metallic sound of a ringing blade filling his ears as the weapon hit the stone beside his head. There was no more hesitation in Hephaistion’s movements as he jumped to his feet, knowing he was defending his life. He caught the Macedonian’s hand as the man directed another strike in his direction, using the momentum to kick one of the Asians weaponless. The still armed Asian, more solidly built than the others, came forward, forcing Hephaistion to release the Macedonian as the general dove away from the powerful fist.
Turning around to meet his opponents again, Hephaistion released his own blade hanging on his side. It was a small knife, but better than nothing by his opinion. The three spread around him again, making sure that he could not attack them all at once. Taking a step back, Hephaistion found himself back against the wall. It felt securing, yet it gave him very little space to move. And space he would need if he wished to take down all three of his enemies.
The smaller Asian moved forward, silently advancing their prey. It seemed that the attackers were unwilling to drag any outside attention on them. Waiting for the other come close enough, Hephaistion moved out, blocking the swing of a short sword, and trying to use his own weapon as the other was unbalanced. But the other Asian was already upon him, clasping Hephaistion’s right hand into a tight grip. It was all Hephaistion could do to not cry out as he felt a fierce pain assault his hand, the knife dropping from his grasp. With a desperate strength, Hephaistion kicked out, hitting the bigger Asian just below the knee. Yanking his hand free, Hephaistion welcomed the smaller one who was again moving towards him. Taking a hold of the charging Asian’s shoulders, Hephaistion moved aside and pushed the other against the wall, feeling no pity as the man let out a pained shout, collapsing to the floor into an unmoving heap.
One down, two to go, Hephaistion counted, leaving the unconscious man aside from his thoughts for a while. His right hand ached, but he knew nothing was broken there. Eyeing the floor quickly, he noticed his abandoned weapon. But before he was able to move towards the knife, the Macedonian kicked it away, smiling at him with a cold light in his eyes.
“Time to die, lord Hephaistion,” the Macedonian said with a low, taunting voice, drawing his sword free. The Asian beside him was looking at his fallen companion, the hatred in his eyes increasing as he lifted his gaze back to the general before them.
Hephaistion lowered his stance, his body alert. He was perhaps an underdog in this fight, but he would soon teach these two to select their targets better in the future. As the Asian moved forward, he met the other’s body, turning sideways as they collided together and using the other’s momentum to throw him over his back. The Asian grunted, trying to get back to his feet. Hephaistion aimed a kick at the man’s head, slightly missing it, and moved down, pinning the bigger man to the ground between his legs. The Asian fought to get up, but Hephaistion was far too practised to let go. It was not in vain why the other soldiers respected his skills in a close combat – Alexander among them.
A breath of air warned Hephaistion, and he dodged down, feeling the tip of the sword cut his cheek. The Macedonian moved closer, lifting his sword for a final strike. Without another thought, Hephaistion hooked his left arm behind the standing man’s leg, making him fall and drop his sword in the process. The Macedonian cursed, but fished out a knife before Hephaistion could do anything else.
It was not easy to fight another opponent in a position he was in, but Hephaistion knew he had no other choice if he wanted to live. As the Macedonian brought his blade forth, Hephaistion pulled to the side. Pain stung in his arm as the knife cut into his skin, the muscles of his legs screaming with effort as the Asian struggled to get free. Taking a hold of the Macedonian’s arm, Hephaistion pulled the other man’s body close to his own, knowing that is would make the other man’s further attempts more difficult.
The Asian struggled even more, but having the weight of the other men on him made his movements difficult. The Macedonian tried to free his arm, the blade in his caught hand scraping across Hephaistion’s chest. Knowing that he could not hold on much longer, Hephaistion freed his right hand and elbowed the Macedonian behind him. He both heard and felt the other man grunt in pain, the knife falling from his hand. The weight of the other pushed against Hephaistion’s back, making it difficult for him to hold the Asian prisoner beneath him.
With an exclamation of triumph, the Asian caught the fallen weapon to his hand. Hephaistion tightened his legs, making it difficult for the Asian to breath, but it was too late. The blade cut across his thighs, and even from the bad angle in which his attacker was in, the wounds were deep enough to make his vision swim. He knew they were not cuts deep enough to kill, but he was already losing his strength.
The knife came up a second time, aiming for Hephaistion’s chest this time. The blue eyes widened, mind frozen with pain and dizziness. The Macedonian was also regaining his strength, his arm locking around Hephaistion’s neck to keep him still and preventing him from breathing. But at that very moment the corridor was filled with shouts as four men came into view, charging forward without another thought. The Macedonian cursed, trying to get up, but a sword cut through his chest before he got another step. The Asian was not spared, either, a spear sinking to his back with a sickening sound. Hands were upon Hephaistion, drawing him away from the dead.
“Hephaistion! Are you well? Speak to me, please!” Ptolemy’s voice pleaded, his hands checking the other man’s body as quickly and gently as possible.
“There’s blood on him,” Nearchus pointed out. “Perdiccas, get a doctor!” he shouted, pushing the other man onto move.
“No, please, I can survive myself,” Hephaistion called out, trying to focus his eyes.
“They look pretty bad, Hephaistion,” Leonnatus put in. “Better get a doctor.” Perdiccas stood in the middle of a corridor, looking this way and that to get a confirmation from someone of what he was supposed to do.
“Alexander… I don’t want him to hear of this,” Hephaistion said quietly, his eyes pleading as he gazed at Ptolemy. If a doctor would be called, the king would know in an instant.
“I will tend for him,” Ptolemy said, his eyes never leaving Hephaistion’s. “Just get rid of the bodies.”
Nearchus did not look too happy about this, but he set to his task without complain. Leonnatus and Perdiccas went to help him while Ptolemy lifted Hephaistion from the floor and guided him back to his rooms. Setting the wounded man down to the bed, Ptolemy went to search for water and clean cloth. When he returned, Hephaistion was laying on the bed, his eyes closed and brow furrowed in pain.
“What happened?” Ptolemy asked as he sat down next to Hephaistion, his hands slowly undoing the blood-smeared clothing.
“What did it look like?” Hephaistion hissed, his eyes opening. They shone with pain, but there was something else in them that made Ptolemy halt in his task. “They were going to kill me,” the other man continued, his eyes shifting away.
“Did they say why?” Ptolemy demanded, horrible feeling settling inside his guts.
“There are many reasons to kill me, Ptolemy. They do not need to say them, as I don’t need to hear them,” Hephaistion answered, his voice distant. “But today, I will live. Tomorrow…”
“I will protect you,” Ptolemy vowed, voice adamant and face set. His tone was firm enough that Hephaistion turned to look at him, his face shocked. “This is my fault,” Ptolemy continued, wiping away the blood on Hephaistion’s cheek. “I will see no more harm coming to you.”
“You speak great words, Ptolemy,” Hephaistion answered quietly, his hand shifting to lay on the other’s thigh as Ptolemy pressed another piece of fabric against his thighs to stop the blood-loss. “But you cannot protect me from the whole world any more than Alexander can. Only the will of Gods will keep us from Hades. Today, they saw it justified to let me live.”
Ptolemy was silent, carefully cleaning the wound on Hephaistion’s arm, then moving down to his chest. As he was finished there, he pulled away the red-coloured clothing on the thighs, grimacing as he wiped away the remnants of the red liquid. “Maybe we should summon a doctor, after all,” he began, but Hephaistion shook his head.
“Just bind them. We are already late from the breakfast, and I do not want Alexander asking questions.” Ptolemy gave him a sceptical look, but after an annoyed glance, the other man did as he was told. Hephaistion settled down at the mattress, trying not to wince in pain as the dressings were bound. He had also felt definitely better in his life as he got up, walking across his room to find another chiton to wear.
“What harm would it do if Alexander knew someone tried to murder you?” Ptolemy asked finally, emptying the bloody water from the basin.
“He might ask the right questions, and find out about us,” Hephaistion concluded. “There is enough for him to worry, and I can handle this on my own.”
“Indeed, I saw how well you handled it,” Ptolemy replied ironically. “And Friends are not yet aware of us. Plus, Alexander has even less faith in Cassander than we do. He would not believe a single word from him.”
“But it would set a doubt to his mind,” Hephaistion said far too calmly as he looked at his image from a mirror. “I will not see that to happen.” He smoothed his hair, trying to ignore the shaking of his hands. “I love you. To the end of my life, I will. And beyond it.” Alexander’s words rang in his mind, over and over again. I vowed to love him, and so I will. For him, I shall die at any day – but first knowing he will go on. “If I would die, you would keep protecting Alexander, would you?” he asked, meeting Ptolemy’s eyes through the mirror.
“Let’s not speak of your death,” Ptolemy said darkly. “If you are ready, we should go.”
Hephaistion nodded, taking it slow to adjust to the pain. The limp in his walk was apparent, and it took Alexander only one seconds to notice it as they entered the dining hall. The king was on his feet in an instant, scaring most of the people sitting around him. “What has happened?” he demanded, halting on Hephaistion’s side. His fingers touched the fresh wound on his lover’s cheek, his eyes darkening.
“It is nothing,” Hephaistion smiled. “I just got into a little fight with some other soldiers – a playful one of that. It was my own fault to get hurt. It seems I need a little more practise than I thought,” he added, silently enough for only Alexander to hear. “Ptolemy came for my rescue, and saved my honour,” he smirked, nodding at Ptolemy’s direction.
Alexander did not look quite convinced, but as Ptolemy did not disagree, he merely nodded and guided Hephaistion on his place beside his. As Hephaistion greeted the others, feeling Alexander’s hand resting against the small of his back, he met Cassander’s eyes across the table. The mere look there made his breath catch. If it was disappointment or surprise, it was well hidden. But the displeasure was apparent in the cool depths, and Hephaistion couldn’t resist an urge to quickly glance at Ptolemy. He drew his gaze away immediately, knowing he should not give Cassander the pleasure he was after. Smiling at Alexander as they sat down to eat, Hephaistion tried to act as normally as possible. He felt safe beside the king, but he knew it wouldn’t be so for long. Not if the whole world stood against him, as it seemed to do now.
#I noticed the way Cassander stared at us from the moment we entered the hall. He kept my stare captive for long moments as I sat down to my place, a promise there that I couldn’t read. Then he turned his eyes on Hephaistion, just before he sat down with Alexander, and I suddenly knew exactly what kind of a promise that gaze held. After he had made his point clear to Hephaistion, he turned his gaze on me, leaning back in his chair in a fashion that made my heart turn cold. If this was a man behind the murder-attempt of Hephaistion, I would have killed him. But Cassander was a snake – born as one, died as one – and what he really was capable of remained as a mystery.
But I hated him none the less, and I still do, today.#
to be continued…