Author's Note: set when Alexander is around seventeen, three years before Philip dies and Alexander becomes king.
Please review. Just to say, this story kind of fits in with the other Alexander stories I have done. :)
Alexander ran over to her, hoping to surprise her. He threw his arms around her and picked her up.
"Alexander?" Andromache said in surprise.
He grinned and kissed her on the lips. "Did you miss me?" he asked her hopefully, with his usual boyish grin.
She smiled. "Of course I did."
"And I you," Alexander said softly and he kissed her cheek. "How has Bucephalus been?"
"He has been well, but he's missed you," she answered sweetly. "So," she said, changing the subject. "What happened at the battle? I gather you won."
"Of course we won," Alexander said with a grin. "We slaughtered those Greeks."
"I'm sure," she said happily.
Alexander ran his fingers through her hair and stroked her face. Her eyes flickered down and she noticed something. She pushed the curly golden hair back from his face and gasped as she saw a patch of dried blood on his neck. "Oh, Alexander!" she whispered. "You've been injured!"
He smiled through thin lips and nodded. "A Greek lance pierced my cuirass," he said softly.
She helped him to take off his cuirass and saw that the blood was still fresh on his tunic. "Did the doctors not treat you?" she asked him gently.
He shook his head. "Of course they did," he replied. "But I did not want them to fuss. I wanted to return as quickly as possible."
She frowned softly and then looked at his wounds. "You should have stayed at the infirmary," she said warningly.
"I didn't want to have to be away from Macedonia, away from you for longer than need be," he muttered.
She smiled happily and then said, "I will see what I can do for your wound."
"You don't have to," he said. "I've already kept you from your duties, have I not?"
Shaking her head, she replied, "Don't worry about that." She went over to the corner of the stable and picked up a bucket of water. She set it down at Alexander's feet.
"Is this the horses' drinking water?" he asked her, with a frown.
She smiled and laughed sweetly. "Don't you worry. It is not," she said. "I was going to wash the horses later."
Alexander pulled off his tunic and watched her as she brought the cloth up to his chest. She stared in horror at the bloody cuts which were on his chest. His perfectly toned physique was scarred with red markings. When it made contact, he winced in pain.
"Sorry," she said apologetically.
"No, don't worry," he said.
She rubbed the wet cloth gently across the wound. She put the cloth back into the bucket. "At least it is a little cleaner now," she said, smiling.
He kissed her forehead. "Thank you."
She put her hand to his chest and inspected the wound. "I think it shall heal nicely," she said softly.
Alexander brushed her hair behind her ears and smiled. She put her hands to his chest and kissed his lips tenderly. "Don't go to battle for a while," she said as she stared into his magical eyes.
He grinned. "I shall try not to," he said and they kissed again.
The stable door creaked as it opened. "Alexander!" A voice called and a soldier came hurrying in.
Alexander and Andromache froze as the soldier came closer. "Hephaestion!" Alexander called out to the entering solider.
Hephaestion cleared his throat and tried to analyse what he was seeing. "What are you doing?" he asked the prince, his mouth suddenly dry.
Alexander shook his head and Andromache put her hand on his arm tentatively.
"I... I was..." His voice faded off. "Look, Hephaestion," he said as he went over to his friend. "You cannot tell anyone!"
"Alexander!" Hephaestion said angrily. "Do you have any idea of what you're doing?! She is a servant, for Zeus' sake! You're the crown prince!"
"I don't care about what society thinks," Alexander replied nonchalantly.
"Your father will not take kindly to this," Hephaestion advised him.
Alexander shook his head. "Do not tell him!" he yelled.
Hephaestion frowned heavily.
Alexander picked up his tunic and put it back on. Andromache went over to him as Hephaestion. "Please, Hephaestion. Don't tell Philip," she said to him pleadingly.
Hephaestion was drawn towards looking at the beautiful slave girl. He gazed at her. "I..." He sighed and said softly, not quite sure whether his words were his, "I promise."
She smiled with deep gratitude and took his hand. "Thank you ever so much, Hephaestion," she said kindly.
"Anyway," Hephaestion said to Alexander. "I was just coming to tell you that Philotas and I were going to try our hand at wrestling, if you want to join us." His voice was barely his own.
Alexander smiled. "I think I will stay here," he said and Hephaestion took another look at them and then he left the stables.
"This is too dangerous, Alexander," Andromache said to him as she turned away from him.
He frowned and turned her to face him, cupping her chin. "What do you mean?"
"You're risking so much. If your father were to find out..."
She was silenced when he put his finger to her lips. "Shhh," he said to her softly. "I trust Hephaestion. You know I do. He will not tell my father."
"When you are king," she said, with small tears in her sapphire eyes. "You can marry any princess you want. You can have the most beautiful of women."
He stroked her hair, saying, "No, no. I don't want a princess. It is you that I want. You are beautiful. Why would I want anyone else?"
She smiled weakly. "Please, Alexander," she said. "This carries too many risks for you. Philip could do anything if he found out."
"Then, we shall make sure that he doesn't find out," Alexander said grimly. He took her hands and gently placed his lips to her, only to feel her pull away weakly. "What is it?" he asked her worriedly.
She shook her head and smiled. "Nothing."
"I think this 'forbidden love' is certainly getting to his head," Hephaestion muttered to Philotas as the two of them got ready to wrestle. The two adolescents had only their flimsy chitons on, and Hephaestion shivered.
Philotas looked over at him and smiled. "I know how you feel about him, Hephaestion," he said quietly, as he walked over to his friend.
Hephaestion blinked several times. He felt his cheeks starting to get hot. "I…I…uh…" he broke off and frowned, squaring his broad shoulders.
Philotas smiled at him understandably. "Do not worry, my friend," he said softly. "I won't tell anyone."
Hephaestion sighed heavily and the bright blue colour of his eyes seemed to fade slightly. "Thank you," he murmured. "I just don't understand why he is doing this, that's all."
"He is in love," Philotas said blatantly, with a little shrug of his shoulders. "Surely you can see that?"
"I can, I can," Hephaestion replied rapidly and quietly. "Is he doing this to spite me?" he asked him worriedly.
Philotas put his arm around his friend. "I can't answer that, Hephaestion. You should probably talk to Alexander, yourself. Just, do not do anything too rash."
Hephaestion brushed the hair from out of his eyes and smiled. "I cannot promise that," he said, and his throat almost caught.
"Just accept it, Hephaestion," Philotas said to him warningly. "Andromache… she is very beautiful. You cannot deny that. Alexander is in love with her. Philip would never accept a relationship between yourself and Alexander, surely you understand that?"
Hephaestion nodded sulkily. "Nor would he accept a relationship between the crowned prince and a serving girl!" he argued.
Philotas nodded his head and said, "Point taken. But, just leave it, Hephaestion. There is nothing you can do. If Alexander doesn't truly love her, then he will put an end to their relationship. However, given the fact that he knows the consequences that are sure to befall both him and Andromache, I am sure his feelings for her are true."
Hephaestion looked at his friend quickly and then he left him. Philotas stared at Hephaestion as he stormed away from him. "So, I guess that's a no to the wrestling, then?" Philotas muttered quietly to himself.
However, only mere moments later, Alexander came strolling over to Philotas. Hephaestion was following him. "Alexander?" Philotas asked him with a curious and concerned look on his face.
Alexander looked at him and grinned, but Philotas could see something in the prince's eyes. It was not fear, no, more like sadness. Sadness and regret and rejection. "I noticed that Hephaestion was looking a little upset," he explained. "He said that his horse was ill or something."
"And… that's why he was feeling upset?" Philotas asked the prince as he gave Hephaestion a disapproving look.
Alexander nodded his head and replied, "That is what he said."
"Anyway," Philotas began again. "What brings you here?" he asked him.
"I have decided to take up your offer of a wrestling match," Alexander responded to Philotas.
Philotas' face screwed up in worry. "Oh… uh… I think I will sit this out."
"What for?" Alexander asked him and he turned his head briefly to look at Hephaestion, who was looking down at the ground sulkily.
Philotas coughed and shuffled his feet ever so slightly. "I… My arm hurts a little. I'm sure I can be of use elsewhere. I'll go and see what Cassander is up to. Probably trying to catch fish with his spear again, no doubt." He smiled.
Alexander looked at him quizzically and then he nodded. "Of course." He watched Philotas walk away and then he turned his attention to Hephaestion. Alexander flexed his muscles and stretched his arms and legs. "Are you ready?" he asked Hephaestion.
Hephaestion lifted his head up, feeling a little confused. "Sorry?" he asked for the clarification.
Alexander sighed and said mockingly, "Oh, Hephaestion! You really need to pay attention."
Hephaestion squared his shoulders and went a little stiff. "Apologies. I wasn't listening," he said half-heartedly.
"So, are you ready for our wrestling match?" Alexander asked him eagerly.
Hephaestion knew he couldn't really deny his future king, so he nodded, albeit he was still rather unsure about it. He, like Alexander, started to stretch and he brushed the tresses of dark hair behind his ears.
Alexander held his arms up and circled Hephaestion. Hephaestion did very much the same thing. Alexander made the first move and flung himself on Hephaestion. As soon as he had done so, his first officer held him firm and threw him back slightly. Alexander knew that Hephaestion was reasonably strong, for he had seen the muscles himself, but Alexander was strong too.
Alexander wiped his brow and breathed in and out a few times. Once he felt that he was prepared, he walked forward slowly and placed his hand firmly on Hephaestion's shoulder. He pulled Hephaestion towards him and tried to flip him over, placing his other hand on Hephaestion's back. Hephaestion had anticipated this move and turned the tables; he had flipped Alexander over on his back.
He may respect Hephaestion and care for him, but he wanted to win. He stuck his foot out at the same time Hephaestion was about to release his grip from him. As Hephaestion changed the position of his right foot, he tripped over Alexander's foot and came crashing to the ground. Alexander had originally intended on rolling out of the way of Hephaestion's falling body, but he froze. Hephaestion fell onto Alexander; their faces parallel.
Hephaestion looked straight ahead and realised that his face was less than five centimetres from Alexander's. Hephaestion had managed to put his hands out to stop the fall, but he could not stop himself from falling onto Alexander.
Alexander was tired, but also confused. He refocused his eyes and felt a noise come out of his throat, a gasp. It took him a while to comprehend what had just happened, what was still happening. He thought of just shoving Hephaestion off of him, who was just as frozen as he was.
"This is… strange," Alexander muttered as he brushed away the tresses of Hephaestion's hair which were cascading onto his own face.
Hephaestion cleared his throat and opened his mouth, as if to say something, but no words came out.
Alexander tried to shift Hephaestion's weight a little. He winced.
Hephaestion looked into his eyes and frowned slightly. "Am I hurting you? I'll get off," he said quickly.
Alexander, however, stopped him from moving. He put his hands around the nape of Hephaestion's neck. "No, don't," he said softly.
Hephaestion furrowed his brow and said, "What? What about Andromache?"
Alexander sniffed and said, as a tear rolled out of his eye, "She said that she doesn't want to be with me anymore."
"Oh, Alexander," Hephaestion said gently. "I am sorry. Why?"
"She said that the risk was too great. Father would have her head if he were to find out," Alexander said.
Hephaestion brushed the tear from out of his friend's face and cupped his chin. "Don't worry, Alexander," he said softly. He got off of him and Alexander sat up, as he tried to catch his breath a little. Hephaestion pulled him into his arms and kissed his cheek.