|In The Name of Eros
Author: moon71 PM
Hephaestion gets more than he bargained for when he tempts Alexander to make a special sacrifice...Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Supernatural - Words: 5,489 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 4 - Published: 05-05-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2924081
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
IN THE NAME OF EROS by Moon71
SUMMARY: Hephaestion gets more than he bargains for when he encourages Alexander to make a sacrifice.
RATING: sexy bits, mild violence, tears before bedtime
DEDICATION: To ssyn, also known as Barbara, because it's so wonderful to have made another new ATG friend; and because your pictures are beautiful!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some of you might recognise this story as a "forerunner" to "The Ivory Eros." However, the two stories are only slightly connected, there are no "spoilers" for either story and you don't have to read the other story again to understand this one! It's just a second child of "The Ivory Eros" ("The Substitute" being the first …) Confused yet?
"How do I look?" Alexander asked playfully once Actaeon had finished curling his hair. "Do you think the Athenians will like me?"
Hephaestion looked up once more, his gaze dark and solemn. "I think they will fall in love with you," he said quietly, "just as I did."
Alexander glanced away, trying to hide his smile. "Well… so long as it serves the interests of Macedon… It's very important to my father that everything goes well…"
"Well I think you've got a dreadfully boring evening ahead of you," Hephaestion replied coolly, "I can't think of anyone more boring to listen to than a bunch of Athenians!"
"Hephaestion," Alexander giggled, "you're one yourself!"
"Exactly!" Hephaestion declared sullenly, reaching to take an apple from the golden dish on the table before him. He bit into it and chewed slowly, still watching Alexander as Actaeon adjusted the cloak about his shoulders.
Alexander frowned. "Hephaestion, I said I was sorry… don't you think I'd sooner be spending the evening with you?"
"I know, I know…"
"Oh, why don't you come too?" Alexander cried, trying to keep his tone light and encouraging, "come on, there'll be nothing but the best in food and wine on offer, my father would do anything to impress these men! And your father will be there…"
Hephaestion shook his head, taking another bite of his apple. "Yes, and I'll have to sit with him, while you sit with the boring Athenians. It'll be awful."
Alexander drew in a deep breath, then glanced over towards his servants. "Actaeon – all of you – leave us."
"But – my prince…!" Actaeon protested.
"I said leave us," Alexander snapped. Reluctantly, Actaeon ushered the others out. "We haven't got long," Alexander said, moving over to sit on Hephaestion's couch, "he'll go and get Hermias, and Hermias will run to Mother… now tell me," he took the apple from Hephaestion, dumped it on the table and took both of his hands. "What's wrong, my friend…?"
Hephaestion met his gaze reluctantly. He seemed about to say something, but then he startled Alexander by grabbing him around the waist and pulling him close, pressing a hard kiss onto his lips. Alexander laughed delightedly at what seemed a lightening in his friend's mood, but when Hephaestion's kisses became more determined, and his hand slipped up Alexander's thigh and under his chiton, Alexander pulled away. "Hephaestion, stop it! You'll make a mess of me!"
"That's the idea…" Hephaestion panted hotly into Alexander's ear. Before Alexander could gather his wits, the bigger boy had pushed him down into the couch and clambered on top of him. "It's Actaeon's fault… he's made you too beautiful to resist…"
"Tion, no!" Torn three ways between amusement, impatience and growing desire, Alexander pushed at him so hard that Hephaestion fell off the couch with a cry. Jumping up, Alexander smoothed down his chiton and adjusted his cloak. He had nearly reached the door when Hephaestion caught him once more, crushing him into the wall with his larger body. Gripping Alexander's chin in one of his strong hands, he stared deep into his eyes, his own burning with a dark fire. He was breathing very quickly; as he pressed closer, Alexander could feel the insistent hardness between his legs and suddenly he knew this was no longer a game. "Hephaestion…"
"I want you, Alé," he whispered.
Alexander swallowed. "I can't, Tion. Not now…"
"Don't you want to?"
"Of course I do! But not here – not now! Come on, I've got to get ready for dinner!"
"Forget about the dinner."
Alexander stared at him. "Don't be stupid."
"I'm not being stupid," Hephaestion growled, "I love you."
Alexander's breath caught in his chest. He still hadn't grown used to hearing Hephaestion say that. "I love you too, you know I do!"
"What – how - !"
Hephaestion's eyes glinted dangerously. "Come with me, now. Forget the dinner. Make love with me instead."
Alexander shook his head, trying to wriggle out of Hephaestion's embrace. His lover's words, his lover's demands were exciting him more than he wanted to admit. The feeling of being desired so violently was quite overpowering. His own passion for Hephaestion sometimes worried him – it seemed to rob him of his self-command, of the discipline that had been beaten into him from such a young age. Hephaestion's passion was something else entirely. It made him feel more than just human – it made him feel godlike. But this was going too far. Alexander was a prince. He had duties and responsibilities. He couldn't let Hephaestion distract him from them! "I can't," he said firmly. "Let me go."
Hephaestion's jaw tightened as he slowly drew back from Alexander. Alexander wanted to say something to him, to let him know he wasn't angry, that he would stay with him if he could, but then Hephaestion spoke. "You once told me it was the will of the gods that brought us together, Alé," he said slowly, "did you mean it?"
Alexander blinked. "Of course I did!"
"Do you believe in Eros?"
"Well – yes, of course I do!"
"Do you believe it was Eros who chose us for one another?"
"With all my heart!" Alexander whispered fervently.
"Then help me."
"Help me make a sacrifice to Eros."
At the mention of a sacrifice, Alexander became quite still. It was wrong to mock the gods; it was also wrong to stop another from paying tribute to them. "I… don't think I understand…"
Hephaestion reached out, touched Alexander's cheek with gentle fingers. "Help me thank him for binding me to you. Come with me, into the gardens or out into the woodlands. Make love with me… in the name of Eros!"
Alexander could not ignore the thrill of excitement which shivered hotly up his body. His heart had begun to thump in his chest. It was madness, utter madness, yet Hephaestion had called upon the name of a god… "I've said many prayers to Eros," he argued weakly, glancing shyly away, "I say one every time I… every time we're… together…"
"Prayers are one thing," Hephaestion persisted, "A sacrifice is another."
"What is the sacrifice? My father's fury?"
"And my father's too."
"And you really think Eros would be pleased?" Alexander breathed
Hephaestion grinned, leaning in to brush his lips over Alexander's heated face. "I know it."
"Hubris, Hephaestion," Alexander scolded, fighting to keep the back the smile tugging at his lips.
"Faith," Hephaestion countered, holding out his hand.
Hardly knowing what possessed him, Alexander took it with his own. "We'll have to go out the back way," he said very softly. "Otherwise we're bound to run into Hermias…"
He had almost got more than he bargained for. Alexander had been more than passionate when they had come together on the edge of the small woodland; he had been positively frantic. At first it had been Hephaestion who pressed the attack, pushing Alexander hard against a broad tree trunk and kissing him hungrily as he freed him from his beautiful clothes. But then Alexander had grasped Hephaestion's bottom with startling force and begun to rub and thrust his groin so hard against Hephaestion's that it hurt. Alexander's gritted teeth shone whitely in the shadowy light; his half-closed eyes rolling upwards, his breath coming in quick pants, his whole body so taut and seemingly so sensitised that he arched and moaned at Hephaestion's slightest touch. His frenzy seemed so violent that Hephaestion began to wonder which god Alexander was worshipping, Eros or Dionysus. For a second Hephaestion was frightened by it; he had not expected quite such a literal reaction to his challenge. But very quickly he was mesmerised, quite sure he would be able to reach his climax just by watching Alexander's ecstasy.
Then Alexander's clasping fingers slid down to the backs of Hephaestion's thighs and squeezed, throwing him off balance so that he slipped and fell back clumsily onto the leafy woodland earth. Alexander was on him before he could recover his breath, grabbing his wrists and pinning his arms over his head. As Alexander's erection slipped between his thighs, Hephaestion clenched them tightly around it.
Alexander gasped then, apparently awakening at last. They had both heard of that Athenian way of making love, but had so far only tried rubbing against one another or stroking with their hands. But Hephaestion's hard, muscular thighs were slick with perspiration and Alexander's manhood stroked smoothly between them. Giving Alexander an encouraging smile, Hephaestion experimentally rolled him between his thighs; the smaller boy's eyes gleamed as he pulled back then pushed down once again, releasing the grip on his arms so that he could reach down and grasp Hephaestion's erection in a hand that was so hot it seemed to burn. Alexander's hand on him was a wonderful but familiar pleasure, but Alexander's unyielding hardness sliding rhythmically against his inner thighs was a new and exotic delight, allowing him to control Alexander's pleasure while his own was accentuated by the surprise on Alexander's face softening to bliss as he too struggled to quantify this new sensation.
Hephaestion was not sure who screamed the louder when their climax came, for they came come so close together and he was so intensely aware of Alexander's responses that it was impossible for him to separate his lover's pleasure from his own. All he knew was that his scream had been one of absolute triumph – so he might have called out had he just won a race at the Olympics, or a great victory in battle. He had thrown his arms tightly around Alexander as if the other boy might pull away, but he needn't have worried – Alexander clasped him in a crushing embrace, lavishing kisses and caresses on his face and neck and whispering breathlessly that the gods knew he loved him.
They had not spoken another word to each other that night; Alexander had seemed dizzy and listless and had leaned against Hephaestion who kept his arm firmly about his friend's shoulders as they made their way back. He could have quite happily carried Alexander back to the palace grounds in his arms. No wine could make him feel so wonderfully light and happy, he thought as they kissed good-night and Hephaestion collected his horse and set off for his own home.
Victory was so very sweet.
He had gone to the palace that evening hoping to have Alexander all to himself, only to find him being fussed over by his servants in readiness for some dreary dinner with some Athenian delegation. Of course it wasn't the first time Alexander's duties had gotten in the way of their pleasures; most of the time Hephaestion didn't mind, just stood in the shadows and watched with pride as his love comported himself like a true prince. But this evening Hephaestion had not felt pride. He had felt something far less pleasant.
Alexander had seemed just a little too princely. He hadn't tried to get out of being primped and preened by Actaeon and the other servants; he hadn't seemed either perturbed or irked by the prospect of spending the evening in the company of his father and the Athenian visitors. And suddenly he had seemed so unlike the boy Hephaestion had known and fallen in love with – he was instead a young prince, gracious, self-commanding and distant. And for the first time it had really struck Hephaestion that Alexander was not completely his, and, as they grew up, his claim on Alexander's time, and on his love, might grow weaker and weaker.
Hephaestion's dreams had been bound up with Alexander's for such a long time that it was hard for either of them to know who had dreamed them first. He dreamed of Alexander becoming king, longed for the day they would go to war together and share endless wonderful adventures and see so many incredible things. How many times had Alexander promised, without any prompting from Hephaestion, that they would go nowhere without one another? When had Alexander ever talked of his future ambitions without including Hephaestion in them? Yet the feeling would not leave Hephaestion alone. Whatever they were, whatever they promised one another, Alexander would still be a prince, and Hephaestion would still only be a nobleman's son.
Suddenly as he had seen Alexander looking so wonderfully handsome and so at ease, he had wanted desperately to keep his lover to himself, to let no-one share him. But as he had cornered Alexander and kissed him, he had wanted so much more than that – he had wanted, needed to have Alexander prove that he loved him, loved him even above Philip and Olympias. Even above Macedon itself.
Well Alexander had proved it to him. Now no matter what happened to them, no matter who or what came between them, Hephaestion would know that if he only asked, Alexander would do anything for him. Anything.
Hephaestion sat up sharply, blinking at his father Amyntor through the early mornning light. He had been so lost in his thoughts that he had not even heard the bedroom door thrust open. Hephaestion sat up with slow, measured movements, getting to his feet, squaring his shoulders and gazing up defiantly. "Father…"
"Come with me, please," Amyntor said in a tone that was dangerously quiet. Without a word, Hephaestion followed him through to his study and stood motionless as Amyntor lit the lamps and turned to glare down at him. He looked tired; his dark eyes were shadowed and his skin was unusually pale. "Well, Hephaestion?" he prompted.
"Well what, Father?"
Amyntor sighed. "Please don't be insolent, Hephaestion, now of all times. You know what I want. Alexander didn't appear at the reception organised last night for the delegation from Athens. You were seen in his room while he was getting dressed. Do I really have to say anything more?"
Hephaestion gazed stonily at the marble floor. He could hear his father's teeth click together and knew he was fighting to control his temper, but he refused to give anything away.
"All right, Hephaestion," Amyntor said, still in that ominously soft voice, "enough stupid games. I know it was you who encouraged Alexander to miss the party."
Hephaestion felt his head jerk up involuntarily. A sharp pain stabbed his chest like a knife. "Did Alexander tell you that?" he blurted out.
Amyntor gave the slightest, briefest smile. "No, Hephaestion. Alexander freely confessed to deliberately missing the party, but he denied that you were with him, even when it was quite obvious you were."
Hephaestion gasped as the pain eased. He folded his arms sullenly. "I suppose King Philip was very angry," he mumbled.
"Of course he was angry, you stupid boy!" Amyntor barked, "do you realise just what a dangerous game you played tonight? It was completely obvious to both of us you were at the bottom of it – Alexander can be a defiant young man, but he has too strict a sense of his own position at Court to try such a foolish, childish stunt without encouragement from someone he cares about very, very much! Do you want to get yourself sent away from Court, Hephaestion?" Amyntor demanded, rounding on his son, angrier than Hephaestion had ever seen him, "do you want to be thrown out of Aristotle's school? Perhaps you'd like be sent away from Macedon altogether!"
"Or sent a gift of poisoned honey-cakes?"
"Or perhaps you'd just like to be separated from Alexander forever?"
Hephaestion froze, glancing up at his father with sudden fear. "Is that what…" he felt his throat constricting. This was one thing he had simply never thought of. "Did the King…"
"No," Amyntor replied in a gentler tone. "Not this time. As a matter of fact he was remarkably kind about it. He called it boyish high spirits; he even managed to make a joke of it to the Athenian delegation!" When Hephaestion relaxed a little he snapped, "he let it go because you're my son, Hephaestion, no other reason, don't you understand? The warning was there, even if it wasn't spoken out loud. If you're considered a bad influence on Alexander have you any idea how bad things could become for you?"
Hephaestion recovered himself. They had been forgiven. They wouldn't have to worry about it happening again, because Hephaestion would never again feel the need to ask for such a demonstration of love. It had still been worth it, no matter what his father said. He forced himself to look Amyntor in the eye.
His father scowled at him, looking more tired than ever. "I am deeply disappointed in you, Hephaestion. Up until now I've been very proud of how you have conducted your friendship with Alexander – you've treated him with deference, respect… and love. I don't know quite what this was about tonight, but I never, never want to hear about anything like it again. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Father," Hephaestion muttered.
Amyntor bent behind the desk to retrieve his switch. He looked at it sourly for a moment, then at Hephaestion. Hephaestion knew he used it less than most of the other fathers at Court; even suspected he disliked using it either on Hephaestion or on the servants. Good! He hoped it hurt Amyntor as much as it would hurt Hephaestion himself. His father looked across at him and seemed to read his mind. "Bend over the desk and pull up your chiton," he said tonelessly.
Hephaestion assumed the position with a bad grace, biting down hard on his lip which was already bruised from Alexander's rough kisses. He managed to choke back his cries as the switch struck his buttocks, giving only one or two choked whimpers despite the fact that Amyntor whipped him harder than he ever had before. Hephaestion's drew strength from his anger. He hated his father! What did he know about real love, the love Hephaestion and Alexander shared? He would go to Alexander and ask to stay with him at the palace forever! Alexander wouldn't turn him away! And even if he did he would sooner sleep on the floor like a servant than under the same roof as his father!
When it was over, he rose stiffly, his eyes smarting, waiting for his father to dismiss him. But then Amyntor's hand came down upon his shoulder. He tried to turn Hephaestion towards him but Hephaestion held himself rigid. He heard his father sigh. "Above all, Alexander wants to appear a man before his father, and before the Court, Hephaestion," he said softly. "You made him appear a callow boy in front of both. Is that really what you want for him?" When Hephaestion did not answer, Amyntor told him to go to his room.
Was his father right? Had he really only succeeded in making Alexander look stupid? He would never have done such a thing! He loved Alexander! He loved him more than life, more than his own happiness!
As the light brightened through the shutters, Hephaestion turned onto his side and pulled the furs over his head. He had only wanted to be sure of Alexander's love! Surely the gods couldn't punish him for that?
But he had done so much more than that, and done it knowingly. He had taken advantage of Alexander's yearning for love, of his lingering insecurities about losing Hephaestion's devotion. Even Hephaestion, right in the middle of it, could see how Alexander had changed since they had become so close, how much he thrived on Hephaestion's love. And as he had used it against him, he had taken satisfaction from the power he held.
Worse, he had used Alexander's faith against him. Hephaestion believed in the gods certainly enough, but for Alexander it was so much more than belief – he seemed to seek their personal approval in everything he did. Unlike Hephaestion he seemed to believe absolutely in omens and auspices, truly had faith that every sacrifice was noted by the gods. Hephaestion believed in a god of love who decided which hearts would be matched to which, for how else could one explain love? But whether he believed that the god in question was a boy who literally fired arrows into people's bodies was another matter.
It was Alexander, and Alexander alone, who had really made a sacrifice to Eros that night – he had followed Hephaestion's plan in good faith and given himself up to the frenzy of worship, knowing far better than Hephaestion what his father and the Court would think of him. And not just them – what would Olympias do when she found out? She didn't like Hephaestion at the best of times – what if she now used this incident to turn Alexander against him?
What if Alexander realised that what he had been asked for that night was not a sacrifice to Eros, but a sacrifice to Hephaestion himself?
Did the sweetness of all victories fade so quickly?
Hephaestion slid himself off the bed, wincing slightly as he stood, and made his way quietly out of his room.
Then Hephaestion moved meekly into Amyntor's arms, sighing tremulously as his father held him close and leaned down to kiss his brow. Hephaestion clung to him, burying himself in his father's warmth, and tried not to think about his next meeting with Alexander.
"Joy to you," Alexander said very softly, his eyes lowered, his manner slightly too formal. Hephaestion began to feel a little sick. "It's been over six days since I've seen you… I thought I should come and check if you're all right…"
"My father made me stay at home," Hephaestion choked out quickly; he had prepared the excuse some time ago.
Alexander nodded but still did not look at him. "Can you come with me now? I'd like to talk to you…"
Hephaestion searched Alexander's face desperately for some indication of what was going on in his beloved's mind, but Alexander was unreadable. As he put out his hand, Hephaestion gripped it only long enough to pull himself up onto Bucephalus's back and resisted the urge to wrap his arms around Alexander's waist, holding him only very lightly and tightening his legs hard around the horse.
The ride was agony, and not just because Hephaestion's rump was still tender from his father's beating. He did not think he could have felt worse if he was riding to his own crucifixion. Alexander's subdued demeanour had confirmed his worst fears – the prince was never this quiet, especially after a long separation, unless something was troubling him deeply. Perhaps he would only scold Hephaestion for the trouble he had gotten them into; Alexander could be very pedagogic at times. Or perhaps he had worked out the less than devout reasons for Hephaestion's behaviour and was about to challenge him with his impiety. He had run the possible outcomes of such a confrontation many times through his mind, and each time the scenario had ended in his losing the boy he loved so dearly. There was no point in making excuses or trying to deny the truth. If he lost everything else, he would at least keep his dignity.
Even so, he felt a little giddy as Alexander pulled Bucephalus up at the edge of the same woodlands they had fled to on that night. He waited for Alexander to dismount before he slid carefully off the horse's back.
Hope warmed him like the brief appearance of the sun through heavy clouds when Alexander suddenly took his hand and led him over to the very tree they had leaned against in the throes of their passion. "Alexander…" Hephaestion whispered hoarsely, but his friend placed a finger against his lips, gazing up at him with glimmering grey eyes.
"He heard us, Hephaestion," Alexander whispered dreamily. His hands began feathering lightly over Hephaestion's form, his face, his arms, his body; as if he was reverently examining a rare and beautiful work of art. "I felt him with us…"
"He…?" Hephaestion murmured slowly, keeping very still, not yet ready to trust Alexander's mood.
"Eros…!" The smallest smile tugged at Alexander's lips, as if he thought Hephaestion was mocking him. "He was there, when we… when we were close. He accepted our sacrifice."
Hephaestion nearly choked. "Alé, as to that…"
"It's all right, beloved," Alexander breathed, slipping his arms about Hephaestion's waist, "it doesn't matter if you didn't feel his touch as I did… perhaps you didn't need to." Suddenly Alexander lowered his eyes and a faint frown creased his brow. "Perhaps you had more faith than I did, from the beginning."
"Faith - ?" Hephaestion cried desperately, "Alexander, no-one I know has more faith in the gods than you…"
"Oh Hephaestion," Alexander sighed, leaning up to kiss his lips, "how I love you… you always think the best of me…"
"No, no, that's not what I…"
"But I have to tell you something, love, something I'm… ashamed of."
Hephaestion went cold all over again. The gods had played around with him for a while and now they were moving in for the kill. "Tell me," he said very quietly.
Alexander drew in a deep breath. "I… had doubts."
"About the gods? You?"
"No, not about the gods… about… us." Alexander's frown deepened and he released Hephaestion, stepping away. Hephaestion made no move to pull him back. "Please don't doubt me, Tion – I've never doubted that I love you, I'd give my life for you a hundred times, more if you asked it… but sometimes I've wondered if it's wrong for a prince to love anyone that much. I know my father has many friends he loves, as well as all his wives and lovers… but I don't think he'd ever place one above another unless policy demanded it…" Alexander paced restlessly. The words obviously came from deep inside and were difficult to force out. "The boys we study with at Mieza… someday they might be my officers, my Companions. Is it right that I should love you more than… I don't know, Perdiccas, or Leonatus?" He glanced up then, smiled ruefully at Hephaestion. "It's a stupid question, really, because I do love you more than them, more than anyone in fact…"
"Alexander…" Hephaestion longed to take him in his arms at that moment, but he held back. Alexander wasn't finished, and neither, possibly, were the gods.
"And then we became lovers, and again I wondered… was it right for me to take you as my lover? You're so beautiful, Hephaestion; I know many others want you and sometimes I worried others would resent me, thinking I'd taken advantage of my rank, and considering you were already my best friend and already closer to me than any of the others… But I couldn't stop longing for you, and I knew I didn't want to stop and I didn't want to deny myself the pleasure of loving with you, and then I worried that perhaps I was too weak…" Alexander paused only briefly to catch his breath. "I was worried about my own jealousy too, because I didn't want to share you, I didn't want to think of you longing for anyone but me, and that was a weakness too… but it doesn't matter anymore," he added, returning at last to Hephaestion's side, a brilliant smile lighting up his face. "Because Eros himself has given us his blessing. And now I know its right, even before the gods, that I should share everything I have with you…"
Aware of Alexander watching him expectantly, Hephaestion tried to think of something sensible to say. But it was no use; he was overwhelmed, struck dumb as a bewildering mix of guilt, confusion, anxiety and relief were slowly replaced by a growing sense of joy as he made sense of everything Alexander had just confessed. It seemed as though a crisis had was over before he had even known it had begun. Mutely he held out his arms. Grinning, Alexander curled into them, rubbing his cheek against Hephaestion's chest like a contented cat asking to be stroked.
"I love you, Alexander," Hephaestion replied, because at that moment those words seemed to express everything he needed to say.
"I love you too, Tion," he heard Alexander say in a voice so low and drowsy it was almost a purr, "I would have done no matter what, but it's wonderful to know the gods approve…"
Hephaestion looked down at Alexander, both awed and disconcerted by his friend's faith. Then he recalled, with a clarity that was both provocative and disturbing, the delirious frenzy of Alexander's lovemaking, the ecstasy glowing in his eyes, the joyful laughter, and he began to wonder. It would not hurt, he decided, to make a small sacrifice to Eros' mother Aphrodite once he was alone; his father would help if he thought it was by way of apology for his abuse of Alexander's love, and at least this time it wouldn't be an absolute lie…