Visitor - Chapter 2
Summary: Briseis goes back to Achilles after she leaves with Priam.
Disclaimer: I don't own Troy or Achilles but Gods how I wish I did. (Maybe just Brad Pitt!) I write only for fun, not for profit.
Author's Note: This was originally intended to be a one-shot, but I have had so much support for me to continue, so who am I to argue with the people? Here goes. Let me know what you think, please. Enjoy.
P.S.: I just saw the movie again, so there are some things that I had forgotten to mention in the first chapter that are included in this one.
Briseis spent the day locked in her room, despite the frequent prodding of her family. Paris came to visit her a number of time but each time she sent him away. Sometime after noon, a timid knock sounded at her door. "Paris, go away. I've told you before, I just want to rest." She was in no mood for anymore of his well-meaning interruptions.
"It's not Paris, Briseis. It's me."
Briseis was out of bed and to the door immediately. She swung the door wide to reveal Helen on the other side. "Oh, Helen, I'm glad that you're here." She pulled the other woman into her room and locked the door behind her. The last thing Briseis wanted was anyone listening to their conversation.
"Tell me what happened, child." Briseis was not offended at the endearment, indeed it felt right. Briseis suddenly felt very small and vulnerable. She lay down with her head in the other women's lap, feeling comforted and much less alone then she had moments before.
As Helen stroked her hair, Briseis told her the whole story, leaving nothing out. She laughed as she remembered the look on Achilles face when she first appeared, blushed as she remembered what he made her feel, and cried as she told Helen what it had felt like to leave him in the morning. "I promised him that I would come back. I promised, but how can I?" She was sobbing now, harsh painful sobs that racked her body.
Helen's heart broke as she held her younger friend in her arms. "Shhh. It's okay; it's going to be okay." She murmured meaningless words that she hoped would provide some comfort. But in all honesty, what could she possibly say to make the pain of a broken love better? "Briseis, listen to me. Do you want to go back to him?" Helen held the other woman at arms length, eyes boring into hers.
"Of course I do! More than anything." She was looking to Helen with hope shining in her eyes. "Helen, you must help me go to him."
"Of course I will help you." Helen smiled at the expression on Briseis' face. She looked as though all of her dreams had come true, but then again perhaps they had.
"Thank you, Helen." Briseis threw her arms around her again. "I have always wanted a sister."
Helen's eyes burned with tears. So had she.
They sat and talked for a long time, plotting the best way to get to the Greek camp. "You need to leave your room sometime today. Paris and the king are very worried about you already. If you come out for dinner, they will most likely leave you be for the night."
"Yes, you're right. I just don't know if I can face them. How can I sit across from Andromache and offer her wine when I am sneaking off to the bed of the man who killed her husband."
"I know, but you must be strong. You are following your heart. Perhaps after some time she will understand."
"I hope so. I hate the thought that I am betraying my family."
Just then a knock sounded at her door. "Briseis, it's me, Paris. I've come to see if you are doing better. Please do not turn me away this time." His voice was plaintive through the door.
Helen opened it, much to the surprise of her husband on the other side. "Hello, Husband."
"Helen, I didn't know that you were here."
"She heard that I was unwell and came to visit me. I am glad for her company." Briseis smiled at her friend, and then turned back to her cousin. "Forgive me, Cousin, for my behavior today."
"Think nothing of it, Cousin. You were held captive for months, in the tent of that barbarian. No one expects you to be as you were before." Helen winced and Briseis clenched her jaw in an effort not to say anything. Paris continued on, oblivious. "I am glad that my wife has been able comfort you in anyway."
"As am I, Paris. She is my sister."
Paris smiled widely; he was so glad that not everyone seemed to blame her for this war. "Thank you, Briseis. And thank you, dear wife, for the return of my cousin's good spirits." He hugged his cousin and kissed his wife, and then he was gone.
Silenced reigned for a moment as they thought about what he had said. "He's not, you know." Briseis' whisper ended the silence.
"Who is not what?"
"Achilles. He is not a barbarian."
"Of course he isn't. I know that." Briseis attempted a brave smile.
"I should ready myself for dinner. Will you stay with me, Sister?"
Helen smiled at the endearment. "Of course, Briseis. And remember, they do not know the truth about Achilles, only you do. You must remember that."
Briseis nodded silently. She wondered what would happen if her uncle insulted Achilles at the dinner table. She imagined what would happened if she suddenly began to defend him, and her stomach churned. Best not to think of that now. Besides, she knew Helen was right. She was the only one who knew the real Achilles, the man behind the legend.
Dinner was a long and painful affair. Everyone in the dinning hall stared at her as though she was some attraction on display. They whispered about her as she passed by and conversations stopped when she walked into a room. When they were not whispering, they were talking of the barbaric Greeks and their evil, disgusting, god-forsaken champion, Achilles. All through dinner, Briseis thought that she would be sick. The only thing that kept her from bolting was Helen's sobering presence at her side. She held Briseis' hand under the table, talked to her in low whispers noon else could hear when she thought Briseis might lose it, and throughout the entire night, not once did she leave her side.
Briseis didn't know what she would have done without her. The thought of facing the stares and whispers alone was terrifying. She was also tired of everyone asking if she was alright, of saying 'Oh, you poor thing to be kept by such a brute as Achilles'. She felt as though she were going to scream. Despite all those people, however, it was the silence of one person that disquieted her the most. Priam said nothing all evening, only kept sending her searching glances across the table. She knew he was aware that something had happened. He had seen her leaving Achilles, seen the way she held his hand. He had seen him give her the necklace of shells, the necklace she was wearing now.
Briseis stood at the tall window of the palace, savoring a precious moment of solitude. She was trying to sort out her jumbled thoughts. Should she go to see Achilles again? How could she? She would be betraying her family, her people, her God. Things were so much simpler when she was Apollo's virgin priestess. So much simpler and so much duller. She felt like she had never lived before she met Achilles, like she walked as if asleep, until the touch of that one warrior opened her eyes. She sighed, her gaze on the moon, but her mind on the beach. She would go to him. She owed that to herself.
When she had walked down this tunnel the first time, her mind was fluttering with thoughts of how this was wrong, of how this was a betrayal. Tonight, however, her mind was at peace. Briseis felt strangely calm, as though the little voice inside her head and given up and bowed to the inevitable. Her mind was clear, she was focused on only one thing; her lover at the end of the tunnel. Her lover. Her lover. The thought no longer caused a blush to bloom, but instead a feeling of pride welled in her chest. He was hers. She was his. Tonight they would be together.
She was so caught up in her musings that she failed to hear the noises around the corner. Suddenly, a hand reached covered her mouth and a strong arm held her still. A gravelly voice, one that sounded vaguely familiar, rasped in her ear. "My lady, I will not hurt you. I was sent to give you passage to my lord."
When she stilled, the arms slowly released her. She turned to meet the startling eyes of Achilles' lieutenant. "Forgive me, my lady. I did not mean to startle you."
"Really? And just what did you expect when you grabbed me in a darkened tunnel?" Briseis' terror had turned to anger. How dare this man scare her like he had. And why had Achilles no come for her himself if he had been worried?
"I apologize, Lady. I did not want you to alert any of the guards. The king is aware that there is a tunnel of some kind in this area, though they do not know of it yet. They have posted watch since last night. My lord sent me to ensure you would have no issues with the soldiers." He looked as though he was truly distraught at the thought that he had caused her harm.
Briseis looked at him in silence for a long minute before she nodded. She had no choice but to trust this man, it seemed. She knew that his loyalty to Achilles was unquestionable, but she also remembered that he was the one who had taken her from the temple and given him to Achilles. "Let us go then."
"Wait, my lady. You must put this on to avoid stares." He held out a soldier's cloak that would cover all of her. As long as no one was very close, she would pass as a young soldier.
He led them in a roundabout route through the camp and the grounds around it. It was quite a bit longer than she had gone the previous night and without Eudorus to guide her, she surely would have gotten lost or captured. Finally, she sighted the black tent that belonged to Achilles.
Before she could run to it, a heavy hand came down hard on her shoulder. "Come on lad. You had best make this quick. My lord has said he does not want to be disturbed."
She turned to question the man at her side, but he shook his head minutely. He led her to the tent and gestured for him to precede her inside. In the dim light of his fire, she saw him rise to greet her, a rare expression of pleasure crossing his features. "Briseis." He opened his arms to her.
She ran to him, smiling in pleasure. They stood together, embracing passionately. It wasn't until she heard a throat cleared behind her that she realized that there was another person with them. A man she had never seen before stood with Eudorus at the entranced to the tent, looking enormously uncomfortable.
Achilles pulled away but kept an arm around her waist. "Briseis this is Alekos. He is going to help us." She nodded at him, somewhat confused. "And I know that you have already met Eudorus." He was smiling wickedly now. He too remembered how she had come to his tent.
She glared playfully at him. "Of course." Her face went somber again. "I don't understand. What do you mean they are going to help us?"
Achilles' eyes went hard. "That ass of a king has decided that I need to be watched to make certain I entertain no more midnight visits with enemy kings. He has posted watchers all around my tent and I thought it better if he did not know you were here. Now, give Alekos your cloak and he can leave with Eudorus. They will think he is just some young soldier, come to gain courage from the mighty Achilles."
Briseis sighed. Could nothing be easy for them in their quest to be together? She gave the young man her cloak and she had to admit, from a distance, no one could mistake them.
"Wait outside for a moment, Alekos." Once he was gone, Achilles turned to his lieutenant. "Come for her a half hour before dawn." Eudorus nodded, then he too left.
Achilles' turned to her. "Alone at last. I wasn't sure you'd come."
"I almost didn't. But then I realized that there was nowhere else in the Aegean where I could spend tonight."
He kissed her then, and for a long time no words were spoken. Tonight their love was slow and sweet, not a desperate coupling like the night before. They drank from each other deeply, savoring everything about the other. She almost cried at his tenderness. How could any dare call him a brute when he could kiss her like that, or caress her skin so softly? How could they call him unfeeling when he did things like this to her body, setting it ablaze with desire? "Oh, Achilles! Please! Oh, Gods!" She did know what she was begging for exactly, only knew that she was going to explode at any moment. Achilles didn't respond, only thrust into her faster and faster. "Achilles!" He swallowed the rest of her cries, joining her in her euphoria. He collapsed on top of her, totally spent. Her arms came around him to hold him to her breast and she whispered, "I love you, Achilles."
She knew the moment she said it that it was a stupid thing to say. He froze immediately. How could she love him? No one had ever said that they loved him, no one. He stared at her a long moment, a torrent of emotions in his eyes. "Why? How can you love a man like me?"
She could see in his eyes how much her answer would mean to him so she thought hard about what to say. "I love you because you were prepared to fight twenty of the king's guards for me. I love you because you didn't fight them. You are brave and courageous and you are honorable. You care about why you fight, you do not go charging in on some fool's orders. I love you because you never treated me like a prisoner, you never treated me like a priestess, and you never treated me as a princess. You treat me as though I am the only women in the world."
He kept quiet through her declaration. She looked up at him and saw the tears shinning in his eyes. "Briseis…" His expression was pained.
She knew what he was going to say and realized she didn't need to hear the words. His eyes spoke more clearly then any poetry. "Shhh." She pulled his mouth to hers and they spoke no more until morning.
Briseis was awakened by Achilles far too soon. She smiled up at him as she stretched languidly. Her blissful state was interrupted by the sight of Eudorus standing at the tent flap. Achilles was already dressed, but she was still nude under the bedclothes.
"Dawn is in a half hour. We must leave." Eudorus was torn between being uncomfortable that he had to interrupt his master and happy that his friend was in such good spirits.
Achilles looked over at her and saw at once her predicament. He smiled. "Do you mind turning your back, Eudorus. Briseis is shy." He laughed out right as both his uninhibited lover and his battle hardened friend blushed.
After she was ready, they faced one another unsure of what to say. "Come again tomorrow." His tine made his words a question instead of an order.
"Nothing could stop me."
"Until then, Briseis." He kissed once, softly, then she was gone.