Summary: 'The world had never been as beautiful and perfect as Alexander would have him believe.' Hephaistion pays the price for Alexander's unrealistic ideas of the future.
Author's notes: This story is leaving dear Bagoas alone for a bit (awwwwwww… hehe), and is set in the time Alexander and Hephaistion return from Aristotle. It is based on a plotbunny that has been hopping around in my mind ever since I read that it was more common in that time to have a relationship with an older man. The word eromenos is used for the younger partner, erastes for the older. You will see why I needed to tell you that...
This is not necessarily a part of the same series as 'A snake's advice' and 'Acceptance', yet I personally like to think that it is. It's not necessary to have read those fics though.
More author's notes: To all who reviewed on 'Acceptance', thank you! I'm glad the sequel pleased you so much, and I hope that you will like this story as well. It's the reviews that have gotten me to write on this, and it's the reviews that will make me keep doing just that! (hint, hint ;))
Philip watched his wife through the thin curtain separating the chamber from the balcony. Olympias' hands were clenched around the balustrade, her shoulders tense, her head proudly cocked even as she looked down. Even though he could not see it, Philip knew very well the expression her face was holding at this moment – lips firmly pressed together, nostrils wide, eyes fixed in a cold stare on whatever was displeasing her. The curved line of her breasts heaved as an irritated sigh escaped her lips.
He quietly stepped outside. His wife's disapproval of something was dangerous, as she would take matters into her own hands whenever she could. Whatever it was she was scowling down on, the persons involved would do best to flee from her sight as quickly as possible, before the lightning from Olympias' eyes would strike them down – or worse.
Philip smirked at his thoughts, but his face grew serious again as his one eye captured the two young men below. There was a blond one, holding a stunning black horse, softly speaking to it, and a dark-haired, trying in vain to mount the animal – the horse moved his backside away in a nervous trot.
"What possesses him to share his most valuable possession with another?" Olympias' heavily accented voice broke the silence. "Is this a game to him? Does he not realise that the gods will not accept him sharing their gift with another? Or is he truly foolish enough not to understand what it is he is doing? Didn't that wise Aristotle teach him anything?"
Philip snorted, breaking the seriousness of his wife's bitter words. "Alexander is too proud to listen to anyone, it is hardly fair to blame Aristotle for his foolhardy nature."
Olympias glanced over her shoulder, her eyes squeezed to thin lines. Philip knew she had had understood the meaning of his words very well.
"My son was ever a smart and obedient boy, before you sent him away. But if it is not Aristotle that has poisoned his mind, it is this Hephaistion."
Laughter sounded from below, and Philip could just make out the dark-haired man losing his balance as Bucephalus jumped away once more, and Hephaistion was quickly caught by his son's strong arms. The temperate stallion with its wavy mane halted a few meters away, snorted, and waited patiently until Alexander had stopped his giggling and would try to catch him again.
Philip sighed. His wife was right, it was foolish, certainly for someone his age – but in truth he could not blame Alexander. "What moves your son, woman, is that what they call friendship."
A dry laugh escaped his wife's throat as she spun around to face him. "Alexander is a prince, he has no friends," she spoke with a triumphant smile. "All they wish is to share in the power that will once be his. You, as a king, should know that better than any other!" Her voice dropped. "This Hephaistion is a threat that should be dealt with."
Olympias' eyes held the dangerous gleam Philip knew all to well, the look that made others tremble, afraid to speak another word. But what she forgot was that, even though many might be impressed by those piercing eyes, Philip did not fear. "You want Alexander for yourself, woman," he spoke loudly, "you're not fooling anyone. And you're not going to deal with anyone either. You are to stay away from Hephaistion – if anything happens to him, I'll hold you personally responsible for it." He gave her a stern look.
The treacherous woman tried to hold her face in a masquerade of cold disdain, but Philip could hear in her voice that she was furious. "I want the best for our son. It would be good if for once, you'd listen to me, for I, unlike you, know what he is capable of! He needs our protection when his heart weakens him!"
Husband and wife stared at each other, one dark eye meeting hard blue ones. But after only a moment, new sounds from below distracted them. Alexander was cheering. A happily grinning Hephaistion sat proudly upon his friend's divine stallion.
A small smile curled upon Philip's lips. "It seems to me that he is capable of more than you would give him credit for."