|The Ivory Eros
Author: moon71 PM
Hephaestion is dead and Alexander cannot live without him, but then he receives a tempting offer from a very strange source. Alexander X Hephaistion, rated for naughty bits and death in no particular order. COMPLETED!Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Drama - Chapters: 7 - Words: 24,814 - Reviews: 57 - Favs: 38 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 12-24-05 - Published: 12-16-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2705060
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
THE IVORY EROS – PART 7
SUMMARY: Alexander finally realises the price he has to pay – now he just has to decide what to do about it and how to deal with those around him once he has…
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Thank you one last time for the warm reception this story has been given. Whether you reviewed it or not (and I've always been shy about reviewing myself, I freely admit it, though I'm trying to fix that…) I do hope you enjoyed it!
Coral Dawn – thank you for reviewing so often, the answer is – quite right, you've got it in one! Joyeeeee – Thank you! Glad you liked Perdiccas and Ptolemy, Ptolemy is usually portrayed sympathetically, by myself included, but I am rather suspicious of him as I suspect he had a big hand in rewriting history to suit himself (why after all do we know so little about Alexander's right hand Hephaestion?) and Perdiccas comes across as a reasonable person. Trust No One – I'm not laughing at your conclusions at all, you're basically thinking just like me, but Alexander will get his priorities right in the end, he just doesn't want to give in to his new destiny (probably because he doesn't know how short the old one was!) Fredericka - yes, Hephaestion saw the future as it would have been (i.e. Alexander dying and his generals all killing each other) but since he drank from the river he only remembers fragments in his dreams. He knows the lost future was worthless to him and Alexander but he's afraid to use this to his own advantage. And I'm so glad you liked Lord of The Two Lands – and that I'm not the only one who hated Bagoas in "The Persian boy" (I found it impossible to believe in his relationship with Alexander as it was portrayed and found his constant resentment of Hephaestion very tiring! To be honest I rather felt like giving the to-good-to-be-true Alexander a good slap too…) I've stuck a note at the end of this for you and anyone else interested in Alexander novels!
Once again – HAPPY CHRISTMAS, and I do hope you like the ending; I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's holiday!
True to his word, he didn't sleep that night, though he was exhausted and his head ached. He locked the door of his bedchamber, not wanting anyone to disturb him, not trusting himself to deal kindly with even the most well meant interference from Bagoas or any other of his servants. Then he paced, and as he did so, he thrashed out detail after detail, argument after argument, drawback after drawback. When dawn arrived he was sitting at his desk, head buried in his hands, but at least he could answer Hephaestion's question. Yes, he had won, though like all victories, winning carried a high price. But it was too late to worry about that now; this, finally, was the real price he had to pay to have Hephaestion back, he finally recognised it. So in a sense, the decision had already been made.
Of course the news spread like wildfire once again, despite Alexander's efforts to contain it. If he heard one more of his Companions bursting in to demand if he had gone insane, he thought he would scream. What did they want, after all? They had protested so many times to go home! He wasn't interested in their complaints; all that mattered was securing Asia. Peucestas would be invaluable, no-one had adapted to Persia the way he had. He could govern, at least for now. Other satrapies and commands were harder to assign; that would take careful thought. Loyalties had to be insured but dangerous ambitions checked. Then he had to consider where to locate Roxana – somewhere far from Stateira and Drypetis, certainly. He had even considered bringing the sisters with him, but then changed his mind. Better to assess the situation back home himself first.
He turned as Bagoas fluttered into the room, his eyes brimming with tears before he prostrated himself at Alexander's feet. "My King, take me with you!" the boy cried breathlessly. Swallowing hard, Alexander drew him up, then took him in his arms. "Please my King – Alexander – I will do whatever you ask, serve however you want me to, but take me with you!"
"No, Bagoas," Alexander sighed, stroking his long hair, "I can't, you know I can't. Peucestas will need you – Persia will need you! Think what a great opportunity this is for you! You're not a boy any longer, look at you! You're a young man – yes, a young man – you can't stay serving me forever…"
"But I – Alexander, I – you know that I – "
"I know." Alexander kissed him softly. It might have been the kiss of an affectionate uncle. His lack of passion seemed only to confirm what he already knew, what he could never be cruel enough to admit to Bagoas – that he no longer needed him, no longer desperately craved love, unable to refuse it when it was offered; that he no longer needed what Bagoas represented, the power, the mystery, the exotic trappings of the King of Kings. "I know, and I can't tell you how much it means to me, has always meant to me…"
It's not enough, anymore, he knew as he held Bagoas close, none of this is enough, without Hephaestion. Its time to consolidate, to try to make reason and sense of all that's happened since I left Macedon. And much of what happened before that. No more rushing headlong to destiny, those days are over.
And that was the true price. The end of all our wild, ambitious dreams of conquest and glory, that's all over, for Hephaestion as well as me. With luck at least the gods will let us keep what we've got, though they've been merciful enough in letting me understand how much worse the alternative would be – all of this, and more, without Hephaestion.
Poor Bagoas. His heart might be breaking now, but it would be nothing compared to the miserable life he would have where Alexander was going, where, in a sense, Alexander already was. Even if he had never come close to rivalling Hephaestion in Alexander's heart, even if there now seemed even less room in there for anyone else but Hephaestion, he deserved better than to be cast to the sidelines, neglected and scorned as a novelty or a freak. "A few months, a year maybe…" Alexander wiped away Bagoas' tears, "then I'm sure I'll be back."
He could see Bagoas didn't believe him. The boy could see it too. Could feel the peace Alexander had achieved, a strange and confusing peace though it was. Then a thought occurred to him. If Bagoas had already heard, what about Hephaestion?
"Are you sure, Alexander?" Hephaestion asked yet again as he stood looking out of the window into the courtyard below. "You know how much this means…it was breaking my heart to leave you, but I couldn't bear to think… but are you sure you really want to go home? Back to Macedon? This is more than going home, isn't it? This is changing everything, no more conquests? What about the Arabian campaign? Are you really sure?"
Alexander drew close behind him, slipping his arms around Hephaestion's middle and resting his cheek against the back of his shoulder. Hephaestion remained stiff in his embrace, as if unwilling to put trust in yet another change in his fortunes. "The choice is not really mine, dearest," Alexander said softly, his lips close to Hephaestion's ear, "the choice was in the hands of the gods. This is the true price we have to pay, don't you see? You were right – you may never be fit to campaign again, and I cannot…" he caught in a sharp breath, pressing his face against his lover's neck, "I do not want to be apart from you. The Eros… whoever or whatever he really is… understood when he said it was up to me how hard I made the payment. I can fight against it, I can let you leave and make us both miserable… or I can make the best of the gifts the gods have showered upon me, even as you've been doing ever since you came back."
"And you're really sure about this, Alexander?" Hephaestion whispered, "you're truly content to come home with me?"
"Can't you tell?"
"You seem so certain… but what if you wake one morning, screaming in regret?"
Alexander shrugged. "What if you wake one morning and decide you don't love me anymore? And I've given up everything for you? It could happen, of course, but I don't think it will. When you… when you died, something in me must have died too. Or else the gods really did take it from me when they brought you back. Whatever the truth, I don't care. I've always followed my heart, and this time it's telling me that you and I should go home."
"Just in case you… regret the deal you made…"
"No, but just in case…" Hephaestion had taken on that haunted look once more, the one which suggested he was remembering something. "For what its worth, when I was… before I came back… I think I caught a glimpse of something. A future, the one that was lost when you brought me back."
"Oh. Was it glorious?" Alexander scoffed, "was I ruler of the world?"
Hephaestion didn't smile. "No. You were – " he stopped, shook his head. "Maybe one day, when you do wake up screaming in regret, I'll tell you then."
In the end it took another two months of organising and arguing before Alexander set out with Hephaestion and the first section of the army. It would be a long trip, but unlike Hephaestion, Alexander was not in a great hurry. There would be business to take care of on the way, plans to make; even a visit or two to a satrap who had not expected him to return their way. And then they would be back in Macedon.
Alexander was not quite sure. He could not quite shrug off the feeling that he had never been intended to return, yet here he was, setting off. An echo from a lost future? In that future, had he never made it home? One day he'd get the truth of that out of his friend. For now, Hephaestion, riding beside him, was almost clapping his hands in joy. "I can't wait, I can't wait!" he declared, "I'm an uncle – again! Did I tell you?"
"Only about a hundred times…" Alexander sighed.
"A fat little baby girl this time! I can't wait to see her! They've asked me to choose a name for her! I can't wait! How about Aphrodite?"
"No, you're right, that's silly."
"I didn't say – "
"And my father!" Hephaestion chattered on obliviously, "I can't wait to see my father! And – and – " he broke off suddenly, wiping his eyes. "What a fool I am!"
"What's the matter?" Alexander asked gently, as Hephaestion reached over and squeezed his hand.
"Oh, nothing… it's stupid, because I still can't remember her very well, but… oh, Alexander, I can't wait to see my mother!"
Alexander's smile died on his face as a sudden chill ran down his spine. "Mother…" he breathed, clutching tighter to the reins of his horse, "Oh… Gods…"
BOOK NOTE: If you're keen on Alexander novels I'd also particularly recommend "A choice of destinies" by Melissa Scott, another alternative history (particularly for fans of Hephaestion!) I've either read or skimmed quite a few Alexander novels and if anyone wants recommendations they're free to email me – if for some reason it doesn't work through the site, you're welcome to do so directly, I promise I'm a person not an advertising company! I'd also recommend Dr Reemes-Zimmermann's "Beyond Renault" website – sorry I don't have the exact address, I think it's changed, but if you run a search on "beyond Renault" you should get it. I'd agree with most of her reviews. Off the top of my head I'd also recommend (of the ones she doesn't review) "The young Alexander the Great" by Naomi Mitchison (a children's book but very charming and the growing relationship between Alex and Hephaestion is very touching) and WOULDN'T recommend "Empire of Ashes" or "In the Shadow of Alexander" (especially if you like Hephaestion!) I also didn't think much of "Queen of the Amazons", a disappointing follow up to "Lord of the Two Lands." Last of all, if you can get hold of it (if you're interested try the publishers, before you try Amazon as the second hand prices are daft) I'd thoroughly recommend "The Golden Vine" by Jai Sen, a graphic novel and alternative Alexander history to end all alternative Alexander histories!
If I haven't now destroyed your bank balance, may I finally recommend as a companion to amazon if no-one's heard of them. Their website has links to the UK and several other countries and it's worth comparing prices with amazon if you like second hand books!