Title: Family Secrets (revision)
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters that appear in the movie or Greek mythology (although I did create some of the supporting characters). I am making no money from writing this (in fact, with the way I go through notebooks and pens I'm losing money). Suing me is pointless since I'd be homeless and hungry without the assistance of student loans. All I have to my name are a fish, a hamster, and every movie Orlando Bloom's made that I could get my hands on and I will fight ruthlessly to keep those.
Summary: Paris is gone when Hector returns to Troy, apparently abducted by Achilles. As Hector seeks to find out how that could happen, he begins to uncover his family's secrets and lies. Before he can be reunited with Paris, he must bring the truth to light – and expose his own deep secret. Sequel to Beauty and Misery but it could be read on its own (see Author's Note below).
Warnings: This story is AU. Paris (now a sixteen-year-old boy) and Priam (one of the story's villains), in particular, are extremely out of character. The Trojan War never took place and Paris and Helen never met. It is also SLASH; specifically Achilles/Paris slash. If any of this doesn't appeal to you, please hit the back button now.
Feedback: I really appreciate compliments and constructive criticism, but I won't beg for reviews or hold chapters hostage until I get a particular number of them. As far as I'm concerned, 1 thoughtful, quality review is worth more than an infinite number of forced ones.
The one type of so-called "feedback" I dislike immensely is flames. Let me right now: IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS STORY AND HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING IT, PLEASE DO US BOTH A FAVOR AND HIT THE BACK BUTTON WHENEVER YOU COME TO THAT REALIZATION. Flaming someone only proves that you're a unpleasant jackass who's been reduced to sending strangers insults to feel good about yourself. Any flame I get will be deleted from my e-mail (after the obligatory eye roll) and – if you flame anonymously – deleted from the story's review history upon my next visit to the website. Bottom line? Don't waste both of our energy.
Author's Note: This story is a revision. While it will have the same storyline, it will (hopefully!) be more fleshed out and give me a chance to fix some continuity problems with it and Beauty and Misery. Think of it as an elaboration rather than a replacement. I will not remove the original version. The only request I will make is that, if you haven't already read the original, please don't cheat and do it now! :)
Since this is a revision of a sequel that was written before the story it followed, it's hard to say whether or not it could be read on its own. I think it could, but I'm not the best judge of that sort of thing.
A/N, part 2: Some of you have asked me to notify you by e-mail ever time I update this story. While I did that for this first chapter, I'm reluctant to make it a regular basis sort of thing. This is not because I don't appreciate my readers – I ADORE YOU ALL! – but because I have the most worthless memory ever (which retains entertainment and historical trivia but refuses to remember anything practical, like where my car insurance bill is). I do, however, update on a regular basis, and a new chapter will be posted sometime every Monday (unless something beyond my control happens; then it will be a.s.a.p. and get back to the normal routine once I can manage it).And now…the story!
Prince Hector of Troy had long ago resigned himself to the apparent fact that the gods were amused by the jest that was his life. How else did he keep ending up in situations that were becoming more and more ridiculous and many times painful while being taunted by strange and unpleasant replications of what he was really longing for? For proof he didn't need to look any further than where he was at the moment. All he wanted was to be home in Troy, watching his beloved wife Andromache rock their infant son Astyanax to sleep; instead he was standing in front of a man who reminded him of the boy. When he was in the midst of a tremendous temper tantrum, that is. And, of course, only if Astyanax was an ugly, hairy, older man with a shocking lack of intelligence and an odd sense of entitlement. Hector sighed inwardly as he forced himself to focus on distinguishing the man's words again after tuning out his rant for some time. This was supposed to be the new king of all Greek kings?
Menelaus' preening had turned to bristling a few days earlier when he realized that Hector wasn't going to cower in fear and awe before his might. "The terms of the treaty are an insult!" he declared irritably. "How can Troy expect me to give up so much of my enormous power while offering so little in return? Do you forget who I am?"
Hector felt a headache coming on at the thought of having to go through this conversation yet again. He was going to have to forgo diplomacy in favor of bluntness if he ever wanted to leave those shores. "I can say with certainty that I know exactly with whom I am dealing, King Menelaus," he told him firmly. "We are only offering what is equal to the value of what we will receive. You cannot expect the most powerful kingdom in the world to – well, let me just note that no sane man would offer a chest of gold in exchange for a crude and worn rag. The cloth peddler must be grateful for whatever he can get."
"Your insolence will not be tolerated!" Now Menelaus was sputtering mad and growing more so each moment as Hector continued to show no emotion at all. "Gold and rags? I am King Priam's rival in power throughout the Aegean – "
"Your brother Agamemnon could claim to rival my father's power," interrupted Hector. "However, he is dead" – and in Tartarus, if there was any justice, for he found the deceased king to be revolting – "and your claim on whatever may remain of his power is weak at best. He did have a son and rightful heir, even if he is too young to rule effectively at the time. Without Troy to support you, who do you really think will be ruling?
Anger and an unspoken fear flashed in Menelaus' eyes.
"It will be your sister-in-law," Hector went on. It was a shame that the Greek man was more easily controlled than Clytemnestra was. If anything else, he had to at least respect her strength, ingenuity, and choice of murder victim. "Even if she must do so by using that puppet of a lover of hers, she will gain the power of the throne."
He paused to study Menelaus' face and felt a glimmer of relief and hope to see that he looked unnerved. "She will not tolerate anyone else trying to claim it from her, least of all you," he continued. "But perhaps you would rather see for yourself how much she will endure before once again swinging a deadly blade."
His shoulders only sagged a bit before the king drew himself up to his full height again and expanded his chest. All of Hector's good feelings deflated in an instant. "Clytemnestra is no threat to me," Menelaus boasted recklessly. "The Greek kings –"
"Are free from the shadow of Agamemnon's influence," said Hector as he did his very best not to let out a frustrated scream. "They will not willingly submit to the same influence with someone who lacks his charisma and aura of power."
Menelaus shook his head as his eyes darkened with wrath. "I could have your city leveled with a snap of my fingers," he hissed stubbornly. "For all of Troy's might and wealth, I have one thing that your King Priam does not: Achilles. The greatest warrior in the world fights for me."
Hector barely managed to contain his snort. "Achilles fights for Achilles," he scoffed. "Not even Agamemnon could truly command him. If he would not totally submit to your brother's governance even when the rest of the Greek world did, what makes you think he'll obey you? He will not fight for a king who is under major threat from a woman, especially from a woman who just murdered the brother of the aforementioned king. You don't even know where he is now."
"He is in his homeland," replied Menelaus smugly, crossing his arms and planting his feet in an unconscious show of defiance.
"He is in Troy," Hector informed him. "My father decided that now was an excellent time to re-forge all of the existing alliances. He's playing host to Achilles and his Myrmidons even as we speak."
"I will send Odysseus to him," Menelaus said desperately. The idea of the fabled warrior fighting in any other army but his was bone chilling. "He understands the importance of a united Greece and will not be as faithless as the others. He will make Achilles adhere."
"Yes, I've heard that Ithaca's king is wise, savvy, and above all, persuasive," Hector commented. "Those are some of the reasons why Troy seeks a new alliance with his kingdom as well. He and a small contingent of his men are also my father's guests at this time."
Menelaus fell silent and Hector went in for the kill. "You may see yourself as Agamemnon's rightful successor, one who wields the same amount of power and commands an equal show of loyalty, but you are the only one. Everyone else knows that Troy now has no rival in the Aegean. They petition daily to create new alliances with us now that they don't have to consider the destruction Agamemnon would sow on their homes. We have an interest in helping you remain on your brother's throne and ask only for your unwavering loyalty in return. I would think it was a small price to pay."
"I – I," stammered Menelaus.
"I have been away from home for far too long," Hector said evenly. "If I allow these negotiations to continue on as they have been, my infant son will be a grown man by the time I see him again! I refuse to spend another day here if we are making no progress. You must accept or refuse this offer now. Refuse and I will be standing before your brother's widow by the end of the week with the same proposition. Accept and you can get back to your lovely" and vapid "wife's bed, secure in the knowledge that you'll live to rule another day. Well, what is your decision?"
Menelaus looked Hector in the eyes, finally worn down. "I accept your terms."OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Hector breathed a sigh of contentment as he rode closer to the gates of Troy. Having sent a messenger out the night Menelaus agreed to the treaty – two days before he and his men themselves were able to depart Sparta – he was sure that his father would be waiting for him with all the empty pomp and celebration that would further keep him from his family. Well, so be it; fighting the inevitable had only added to the time that those happy reunions were delayed. Once Hector gave him the good news about the Greek king accepting the new alliance and mingled sufficiently with the Trojan nobles and foreign guests he would be able to slip away unnoticed. He smiled to himself at the thought of finally seeing Andromache and Astyanax – how much that boy must have grown while he was away – after being parted from them for so long. Since his father had a palace full of guests that he didn't particularly trust he might even be distracted enough for Hector to sneak a visit with Paris.
His smile turned wistful as he thought about sixteen-year-old Paris. Priam had kept the boy sheltered his entire life, isolated from the outside world to the point where the only people he saw that were even remotely his own age were the various servants that waited on the royal family and the palace prostitutes after banquets. Hector knew that position all too well and it worried him to think that innocent Paris might one day have to go through all of the pain that he went through because of the choices he had made.
He'd tentatively raised that concern with Priam a few years earlier after observing that the only people that spoke to Paris on a regular basis were the Trojan king, a servant child, and his father's trusted right-hand among the nobles, Lord Isidore. Of course he regretted that action now, as his ears were still ringing from the ensuing tirade. Priam forbade Hector from having anything to do with Paris. That fact wounded the older prince deeply, even though he understood the reasoning behind it.
'You have no one to blame but yourself!" he silently berated himself. "Father is only protecting Paris from you…from being tainted by your sin. It's a shame you cannot follow his example; you are weak, Hector of Troy. You think only of what you want and think nothing of how it could affect Paris. Haven't you caused enough suffering?'
These types of thought came to him often but never kept him from slipping into Paris' bedchamber whenever he could. The idea of never seeing him again hurt far worse than any chastisement that he could receive. As the boy got older, Priam made it a point to keep them even more separated, if that were even possible, but refusing to allow him to be trained as a warrior while sending Hector abroad more frequently. The natural result was that their secret visits were getting harder and harder to manage.
Upon entering the gates of Troy, Hector was surprised to find silent streets to greet him and his men rather than the usual cheering crowds. Perhaps his messenger hadn't reached the city yet? No, that didn't feel right; people were gathered to watch the procession. He shuddered involuntarily under their intense gazes as they looked up at him expectantly while a low murmur ran through the crowd. Tension and fear hovered in the air all around them, choking the city. Something terrible had happened. He knew it with bitter certainty; while he was away humoring a boisterous and weak man something terrible had happened.
Hector gave a sudden, clear command – "Follow me! Hurry!" – as he spurred his horse on, racing to the palace as fast as the animal could carry him. Had Andromache, Astyanax, or Paris fallen ill? Was his father well? Was he dead? He felt a little nauseous when he realized that the thought of Priam's demise didn't make him entirely unhappy. He shook his head to clear it of those unacceptable thoughts. It was probably none of those things – most likely the visiting Greeks had caused some kind of scandal.
As he was dismounting in front of the entrance to the palace, a soldier ran out to greet him. "Prince Hector!" the man cried, letting his elation and relief be heard. Hector recognized him immediately as Lucius, a good and trustworthy soldier as well as the son of a noble. The only reason he hadn't ordered him to join the company of men that went with him to Sparta was because his high social ranking and pure intentions made him the perfect candidate to keep a protective eye on the prince's loved ones while he was away.
Whatever had happened, it had apparently been beyond Lucius' capabilities to amend it. "Thank Apollo you've returned!" he added.
"What has happened?" demanded Hector, too preoccupied with praying that whatever catastrophe had taken place wasn't irreversible to commence with a proper greeting. "Have the negotiations fallen apart?"
"King Odysseus of Ithaca and his men are still here," Lucius informed him. A sneer came upon his face. "Lord Achilles" – he spat after he spoke the name – "and his Myrmidons left two days ago. May the gods strike them dead for what they have done!"
Hector's heart twisted. "So we're at war with the Myrmidons?" he asked. A sense of dread grew inside of him, and not the usual one he felt when he was faced with the prospect of being away from his family yet again. There was more to the situation than just a simple insult and an early departure. "What happened that we couldn't reach an agreement with him?"
Lucius' eyes blazed as he remembered. "Lord Achilles wanted what he had no right to ask for," he growled. "Yet he would not take 'no' for an answer."
"Lucius please, I need you to explain everything to me," requested Hector in a desperate pleading tone.
The soldier sucked in some air. "Prince Paris –"
"Paris?" Hector interrupted in a horrified whisper. "What does Paris have to do with all of this?"
"He carried him off, sire," cried Lucius. "Prince Paris is gone! Achilles kidnapped him two days ago. We are sure he was on the Myrmidon ship that headed back to Greece."
To be continued…