Author: moon71 PM
Growing up is never easy. Alexander and Hephaestion know they're in love, but the question remains: which sort of love is right for them? Last chapter here at last!Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Chapters: 10 - Words: 19,906 - Reviews: 87 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 06-12-10 - Published: 12-13-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5577985
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
LOVE LETTERS by Moon71
Chapter 10: After so long at odds, Alexander and Hephaestion finally confront each other. Where do they go from here?
Notes: The final part at last! Thank you to all of you who have stuck by me during what has proved a rather complicated few months in many ways. I'm not sure how quickly I will post my next story, but new stories do still exist both on my computer and in my brain, so stick with me and feel free to email me if you ever want to chat. I am working a lot of overtime at the moment as well as writing other stuff, so my time is stretched, but if I am slow to reply please don't think I've forgotten or am ungrateful - all comments, reviews, questions or others are treasured.
He found Hephaestion where he knew he would be. The fruit on their favourite tree were heavy and ripe; some had already fallen and lay like bright red jewels upon the green grass. Hesitating a moment, Alexander picked up one of the apples and looked down at it. "The autumn is nearly here," he observed in a quiet tone. "It's sad to think that we've been at odds since the spring…" He polished the apple against his chiton and held it out to his friend.
Hephaestion looked up slowly, staring at the fruit for a long moment before taking it from him and clutching it close to his heart. "Do you hate me now?" he asked in a thin whisper.
"Oh Hephaestion," Alexander sighed, "I love you more than ever…!"
"I tried, Alexander, I swear to you I tried," Hephaestion cried suddenly, running his hands through his own dark curls in anguish, "but I can't help what I feel! I love you and I – I want you! Just like Patroklos wanted Achilles!"
"Or Heracles wanted Iolaus?" Alexander suggested gently, crouching beside him and taking Hephaestion's hand in his own. After a pause he added, "Hephaestion, what I did was very wrong, I didn't want to hurt you, I… I was jealous, and confused, and… I swear, when I saw the first one I didn't know… I wasn't sure… I thought perhaps you'd found someone else…"
"Alexander…!" Hephaestion rolled his eyes in exasperation.
"I know, I know… I just don't think I wanted to admit it… they are to me, aren't they? I'm still your beloved?"
"Gods, how can you even ask?"
"How can I not? After the way things have been between us… the way I've been… and… Andromachus…"
"If you read all of my letters," Hephaestion sniffed, "you'll know Andromachus means nothing to me…"
"But you and he, you did…"
"So what if we did?" Hephaestion stiffened defensively. "You made it quite clear you didn't want to! Anyway," he added in a softer tone, "it didn't really mean anything. It was a bit of fun, that's all. And he was kind to me. If you don't care about… about doing that sort of thing with me, you shouldn't mind if I want to do it with someone else…"
"But I do mind." Alexander lowered his eyes. "And I do care. I… I was just scared. Andromachus was right, in what he said to you… I am scared."
Hephaestion met his eyes for the first time and Alexander saw an acknowledgement there of what that admission had cost him. "I'm scared too, Alexander!" he declared, "don't you see? I'm afraid of disappointing you, as a friend, as a…a lover... of not keeping up with you, of losing your love, of being a poor soldier, of other people's jealousy… of my own… of your parents not approving of me…"
"But it's natural to be scared of those things," Alexander replied, shaking his head, "I'm scared of them too! But that's not what frightens me now! I'm scared of… of wanting you too much!" He breathed out deeply; he had finally said it, to himself as well as to his friend. "I'm scared of wanting all of it too much, of… of… letting that side of me escape, of being blinded and possessed by what I feel, of it ruining what we have! I see my mother's jealousy, and my father… Hephaestion, you see how lust controls him… if I really am his son, what if I become like him? Think about it, Hephaestion… what if I begin treating you the way he's treated some of his lovers…?"
Hephaestion frowned, drawing in a deep breath and turning the apple over and over in his hand. "I don't think lust controls the King," he said, taking his time, "whatever your mother says, I think he… enjoys it, and maybe he uses it against other people… because they find him attractive… and they do, I know you can see it too… but I don't think you'll ever be like him, because I don't think he has ever loved anyone the way you have…"
"You mean the way I love you," Alexander responded simply, pressing his hand hard; Hephaestion blushed and began nibbling at the apple, a deep frown upon his face. Alexander could almost feel the thoughts turning over in his head.
"Alexander…" Hephaestion suddenly laid aside the apple, freed his hand and clasped Alexander's shoulders in a painful grip. "I know you love me, but do you want me? Even a little? And if you do," he hurried on before Alexander could answer, "do you trust me? Do you trust me not to hurt you or shame you or cast you off? I know all the silly rules about love between men, I know we're supposed to outgrow each other, I know you'll have to marry one day, but I can't ever imagine not loving you, or… wanting you… If you really don't want me, I'll try to understand, as long as I know it's the truth, but…"
"I thought I knew what I wanted, I was so sure, but now…" Alexander shrugged helplessly. "I'm afraid, Hephaestion, I'm confused, and afraid and…"
"But do you trust me… my love?"
Alexander's grey eyes met Hephaestion's dark ones, and a small, weak smile touched his lips. "I trust you, but…"
As he spoke, Hephaestion leaned forward and kissed him. Alexander responded eagerly, sighing as Hephaestion slipped his arms around his waist and he threw his own around Hephaestion's neck. They broke the kiss to hold each other tightly before Hephaestion drew back, turning his head shyly away. "The letters… did you like them…?"
Alexander felt his cheeks grow hot. "Yes…"
"All of them?"
"Even the one where I…"
"That one… most of all."
"Then… maybe you do… want me… just a little…?"
Alexander found himself unable to respond, not yet ready to meet his friend's consuming desire head on; he remained still in Hephaestion's arms, hiding his face in his neck and clinging tightly, his whole body hot and trembling as if gripped by a fever. He felt Hephaestion stroking his hair, then his back; then his hot breath and soft lips against his cheek.
He could not yet reciprocate, but he would submit; whatever Hephaestion wanted to do, he could do. A small moan escaped him as Hephaestion kissed him once again, his tongue slipping softly between Alexander's lips and leaving behind the sweet taste of apple juice. Hesitantly Alexander met it with his own.
A wave of dizziness passed over him as he felt himself sinking, overcome by the force of new sensations; he clung to Hephaestion to stop himself falling, yet seemed able only to pull him down as well. For a moment he tried to catch hold of some support, to stop himself plunging ever downwards. But Hephaestion would not let him; his mouth was fixed upon Alexander's and the weight of his body held him under, and they tumbled together into the depths.
Suddenly they broke the surface, gasping for air. When Alexander opened his eyes the light blinded him and he struggled against it, craving the secrecy of the darkness. He tried to pull Hephaestion back down, wanting to hide from his own engulfing passion within his friend's. But Hephaestion would not yield; he looked down at Alexander with burning eyes. "What… do you want… my Alexander…?" he rasped.
"No… Hephaestion…" Alexander whimpered.
Hephaestion caressed his face with hands and mouth, murmuring soothingly. "Please tell me… tell me my love…"
"You…" Alexander moaned, his lip trembling, his eyes blurring.
"Don't cry," Hephaestion kissed his cheek, then nuzzled under his jaw, "please don't be sad… you must never feel sad when you're so close to me…not when you've made me so…so… happy… I promised I'd never hurt you… I love you so…"
"Hephaestion…" Alexander looked up at him at last. Hephaestion smiled tenderly down at him, his face alight with a happiness that had not been there since the early spring. Whatever doubts Alexander had, whatever fears haunted him, it was all worth it to see Hephaestion's joy. His heart swelling with love, he swallowed hard and said, as he returned Hephaestion's smile, "let's go to our room…"
They held hands as they walked, not speaking; not even exchanging a glance. Once there, they regarded each other in a moment of shyness before Hephaestion resolutely shed his chiton and then Alexander's. This time Alexander came eagerly, almost desperately into his embrace, letting himself be drawn down onto his bed and surrendering to Hephaestion's sensual touches to his face, chest and arms.
The first caress between his legs made him freeze, but then he relaxed with a soft moan, gasping as he felt his friend's warm kisses upon his belly, not resisting even when Hephaestion's lips brushed the inside of his thighs and shivers raced up his body. A small cry broke from him as a hand began to unwrap his loincloth; he had been naked so many times before his friend, but never when aroused. He watched Hephaestion staring down at his erection, half fearing, half longing for his touch, whimpering as Hephaestion took it in his hand, stroked it, then softly kissed it. He ought to stop him, such things were not correct, but he could not, he would not, whatever Hephaestion wanted… whatever he wanted…
But then Hephaestion suddenly looked up, his eyes filled with anxiety. "Do… do you like what I'm doing?" he asked in a whisper.
"Of - of course I do…!" Alexander panted.
"Then… will you… will you…"
Alexander stared at him for a few seconds, then realised what was needed. He could not hold back a part of him any longer, could not pretend he was still somehow divorced from what Hephaestion wanted… could not pretend that he did not want it too. With unsteady hands, he reached out and touched Hephaestion's muscular chest, stroked his shoulders, drew his head down and kissed him with a mouth opened in welcome.
Alexander had somehow expected Hephaestion to be worldly and confident afterwards, even boastful and demanding now that Alexander had finally yielded. But his friend – his lover – the word now sent an odd little shiver through his midriff – remained silent and still. "Hephaestion," Alexander whispered, not moving, "what are you thinking about?"
There was a long pause. "I was thinking…" Hephaestion said in a voice so soft and intimate it sent shivers across Alexander's skin, "that I'll have to lead a very pious life from now on… because to have so much good fortune in one day… to have you, you, not only lying here in my bed but doing so after we've…" He cleared his throat and went on, "we've done this… then surely I can't have much luck left…!"
"Oh, Hephaestion…!" Swallowing hard, Alexander longed to turn to him but he held back, confused and troubled by his own thoughts in comparison.
"And you, Alexander?" came the hesitant question.
Alexander took a deep breath. Could he really say what he thought, even to Hephaestion? Yet suddenly he knew he had to, that he could never keep secrets from his beloved again.
"You know what my mother sometimes says," he began carefully, "about… me being the son of… of Zeus…" He swallowed, feeling his face grow warm. "Sometimes I think I really believe it, she makes me believe it… but sometimes I think I only want to believe it, especially when my father and I… when he says or does things that hurt me so much…" A soft whimper escaped him as he felt Hephaestion's fingers begin to slide through his hair. "But now I can't believe that I'm anything but mortal, because no god could lose himself so completely as I just lost myself to you…"
Alexander felt the gentle touch halt, but he caught Hephaestion's hand before he could withdraw it. "I can't imagine I'll ever be as carefree about this as my father… but if being the son of an ordinary mortal means I can give in to feelings like this… and share… what we've just shared… then I'm happy just to be Alexander, son of Philip." He turned onto his side; kissed Hephaestion with moist, tender lips. "And I was wondering… if you haven't had enough of me yet… if you'd like to share some more…"
Before Hephaestion could answer, Alexander slid on top of him with the fluid grace of a cat, gazing down into his eyes. They smiled timidly at each other for a moment before Alexander kissed Hephaestion again.
Alexander hurried down the steps and into the courtyard. The autumnal air was fresh and crisp and carried the faintest touch of winter. "Forgive me, Father," he panted breathlessly as he ran to where Philip waited, mounted on his horse, "I forgot… my…"
Alexander halted, frowning. Between his father's horse and Bucephalus, who was pawing restlessly under the care of the groom, stood Hephaestion, looking up at the King with a wide-eyed smile. Philip noticed Alexander and grinned, leaning down to embrace his son. Alexander pressed a diffident kiss onto his bearded cheek before clambering on to Bucephalus. "I'll see you at supper, Hephaestion…"
"I'll be waiting, Alexander," Hephaestion replied, holding out his hand for Alexander to squeeze, "health to you, Sire…" he inclined his head to Philip. With a grunt of amusement, Philip reached and pinched Hephaestion's cheek before nudging his horse forward towards the woods.
Hephaestion beamed; Alexander scowled. "You little flirt!" he hissed over his shoulder, "just you wait until I return…!"
"Oh, I will," Hephaestion winked at him, "I will…"
They spurred their horses forward, enjoying the fresh brightness of the day; all about them the cool greenery had exploded into a firestorm of reds, oranges and yellows. When at last Philip reigned in his horse, he turned to Alexander with a glint in his eye. "I hope you're keeping a close eye on Amyntor's son," he said meaningfully, giving a nod towards Bucephalus, "don't be so busy with your black stallion you don't notice someone stealing your wild colt! I know that look well… someone's made a man of him!"
Alexander cringed, feeling his face burning as brightly red as the autumn leaves about them, and studiously avoided his father's probing gaze.
"Well I'll be damned!" Philip threw back his head and laughed, slapping Alexander on the back so hard he nearly knocked him off his horse. "Didn't I tell you you're my son? Come on, race the old man – if you can find the energy!" With that, he dug in his heels once more, leaving the overheated Alexander to pursue as best he could.