A Man of His Own
"No, not here," Hephaestion muttered, trying to push away from Alexander; but Alexander's grip was of iron and would not pry easily. Instead he pulled closer to Hephaestion's hard body and attempted to tear the thin barrier of cloth away.
"Alexander, please," Hephaestion cried out as his back was roughly shoved into the wall and Alexander's sweet kisses were planted along his neck, spots of heat blooming and spreading over his skin wherever his lips brushed against him. The heat almost possessed him, but Hephaestion managed to grab a hold of himself. "We can't – not here."
"Oh," Alexander groaned the names of a number of Gods as he pulled back slightly. "Why not?"
"This is your chamber."
"Would you prefer the hall?" Alexander demanded in frustration.
"I would prefer that we not do this at all – not in your manor, anyway."
"What?" Alexander hesitated in confusion. "Why – ?"
Hephaestion swallowed and looked away. "Your mother," he mumbled. "She… accused me of using you, and – "
Alexander suddenly let go of Hephaestion, as though the fire he so desperately wanted had suddenly exploded; and the heat was too much for him. "She knows?"
"Of course," he replied, tugging at his cloak. Downcast, he murmured, "Everyone does."
Alexander backed away until his legs collided with the bed. He sat down uneasily. "How?"
He could already sense his mother's jealous disappointment like a sour, foul smell that was rising from the bed, whose sheets Alexander and Hephaestion had wrestled in so many times. A shiver ran up and down his spine, as though a cold, dry snake has slithered around his lower back. Hephaestion's hand lightly touched his shoulder, and he flinched away.
"If you knew that this was a secret no longer, why didn't you warn me?"
"I didn't realize it would matter to you," Hephaestion frowned. "You've always boasted about how you're your own man, and you need no approving opinions – "
"This is different," Alexander said forcefully. "And if it wasn't to warn me – or to make love to me – then why are you here?"
The heat had gotten to Alexander's head, and he knew very well that Hephaestion had come merely because they enjoyed each other's company; since children, they've been friends – twins of personality – and it was hard to find one without the other. But now, with the foul scent invading his senses, Alexander was possessed and determined to lash out at whoever was nearest, if only to make himself feel more at peace.
However, Hephaestion calmly ignored the bait. Perhaps he had been around Alexander too much, and knew his nature as though it were his own – only in this case, he could observe the nature and see it for the behavior it was rather than be deceived, as many are by their own personality. "Alexander, surely you're not afraid – "
At this, Alexander furiously stood. "And now you accuse me of being a coward!"
"How can I not?" Hephaestion frowned. "Look at you, Alexander, you're trembling."
This was, apparently, the wrong thing to say, for Alexander's balled fists flew at Hephaestion's cheek. Hephaestion, surprised, instinctively grabbed his arm and pushed him away, and was all the more shocked when Alexander pushed him back with enough force to shove them both over onto the cold, tiled floor.
"You've had too much wine!" Hephaestion accused angrily as he attempted to push Alexander off of him. "Stop acting on your passions and, for once, act reasonably!"
They struggled for a few moments until, finally, Alexander tired himself out. With a shudder, it seemed that he had fainted altogether – that the heat had finally defeated him – but eventually, he moved against Hephaestion, struggling to stand up off of the older boy's body. Seeing what he wanted, Hephaestion pulled both of them to their feet.
"Are you all right?" he murmured as he fought to keep Alexander from stumbling.
Hephaestion helped Alexander onto the bed. They sat in an embarrassing silence for a moment, Alexander seemingly asleep, the fire smoldering no longer and almost completely out. Finally, Alexander opened his mouth and muttered something.
"What?" Hephaestion asked quietly.
He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. I haven't been thinking clearly for a while, my Hephaestion."
Hephaestion looked away. "That's fine, Alexander. I know that you and your father's fights have been putting more and more stress on you."
"I just… How did my mother find out?" he finally asked, frown lines growing deep.
"A few nights ago," Hepaestion said after a moment of thought. "One of the servants walked in on us while we made love, Alexander. Neither of us noticed."
"Apparently," Alexander managed a small smirk. "How did she react?"
"Indifferently, I believed, when she brought up the subject with me this morning," Hephaestion said thoughtfully. "I thought she found it funny, even, for she had a smile plastered on her face. The smile became colder and colder, however, as she told me that she didn't appreciate people who got in the way of her plans. She told me that I was only using you, Alexander, but I swore to her that this couldn't be farther from the truth. Yet… Alexander, she accused me of secretly plotting to ruin you." It seemed that a part of Hephaestion would have loved nothing more than to bitterly weep. At a young age, his heart was tender and vulnerable, and it hurt him that his lover's mother disapproved of her son's choice, and was even worried that Hephaestion would actually want to harm her Alexander.
As Hephaestion weighed his emotions, Alexander sat deep in thought. Privately, he ran over his mother's words in his head and automatically knew why she disliked his relationship with Hephaestion. She wanted him to marry; she wanted him to have a child so that he could become the legitimate heir to the throne.
Yet his love and passion for Hephaestion would not waver, no matter what his mother's or father's wishes were. They were too close for anything to come between them, whether the matter was simple and trivial or critical and imperative. Since children, they drifted together on instinct, naturally attracted to each other: Alexander, to Hephaestion's quiet, shy, seemingly cold reserve that could turn into a ferocious desire within moments; and Hephaestion, to Alexander's regal, passionate, open personality that rebelled against all wishes that weren't his own.
Aristotle's lessons in Mieza were the lone factors that forced them away from each other during the day. When they were not sitting, listening, and learning, they were spending every moment they could together. They slept together, bathed together, played together, walked together, ate together; when Hephaestion wasn't in Alexander's home, Alexander was in Hephaestion's. Their closeness was always apparent to anyone who cared to notice.
Alexander supposed that no one should be surprised that their relationship had moved from strictly friendly to sexual. After all, they always did everything together. Even in their early teens, they'd experimented with each other, learning about their bodies and teaching each other the meaning of love.
It couldn't have possibly stayed a secret for long anyway, Alexander finally decided with a small frown. Though the awful scent still invaded his senses, Alexander decided to act as a real prince should: calmly and professionally. He cleared away the powerful fog from the wine, and knew that if he continued to lash out at Hephaestion physically and verbally, he would only be making the situation worst.
"Are you uncomfortable, then?" he asked, finally breaking the developed silence.
"Of course I am," Hephaestion said without hesitation. "I came to you for support," he admitted. "I love you, Alexander, and I won't stop loving you so easily… but your mother…"
He didn't need to say anymore. Everyone was afraid of Alexander's mother, the sorceress of snakes. Secretly, Alexander feared her as well – but as the next king and the son of a God, he was expected to terror nothing; so he hid his panic well. Perhaps this was why Hephaestion seemed so surprised when Alexander showed hints of fear, and perhaps why Alexander had lashed out when his secret fear was uncovered – he had attempted to recover it, but his technique hadn't helped his relationship with Hephaestion. Therefore, he tried a more comforting technique:
"She can't hurt you," Alexander said softly. "I'll make sure of it. Have strength, Hephaestion," he added when the other seemed skeptical. He placed his hand on Hephaestion's shoulder and squeezed it slightly.
"I've tried," he murmured. "All day, I've been nervous with thoughts. Almost paranoid – I had a servant taste my wine before I drank from it."
Alexander chuckled and embraced Hephaestion, who half-heartedly returned it. "Oh, but now I feel so horrible."
"For attempting to fight with you."
"We've fought many times before now," Hephaestion shrugged.
"That may be so, but usually for reasons more adequate than me merely feeling like fighting."
"There's nothing wrong with wanting to fight," Hephaestion smirked slightly. "We're men. The need for fighting is honorable."
"Even with those we love?"
"Particularly with those we love," Hephaestion pulled Alexander closer. Alexander smiled and planted a friendly kiss on the corner of Hephaestion's lips.
"I still want you," he said, slightly roughly.
"As I do you," Hephaestion answered softly. "But as I sad before, Alexander: not here."
Taking the opportunity as a chance to start over, Alexander pulled away and eagerly suggested, "Then let's leave this place."
"And go where?"
Alexander thought for only a moment before he pulled out of Hephaestion's grasp. "The woods," he said with a nod. "No one will be there. It's too near to supper."
Alexander picked up his dark sheet and rolled it into a ball. Hephaestion's arm wrapped around Alexander's waist, and together, they casually left the room. The halls weren't completely abandoned, but they almost went unnoticed. The few servants that were scattered about would, out of politeness, wait until the pair was out of earshot before they began to whisper to themselves about the recently uncovered secret.
Outside, the golden chariot was racing across the sky to the mountains of the horizon; however, the darkness wasn't enough to completely conceal them. They had to walk for a while, and as the number of their steps grew, the tension grew as well. The intense strain between them was so powerful that Hephaestion could almost feel Alexander's desire grow. This made the passion in him grow as well.
Finally, when the trees were thick enough and close enough together, Alexander spread out the sheet and they immediately fell on one another. The heat was alive again as skin rubbed skin and muscle tensed and hair was pulled and breathing became heavy.
Usually, Hephaestion naturally assumed control, as he was the older and more mature of the two; today, however, it seemed that Alexander had Hephaestion's earlier words in mind as he struggled against Hephaestion's superiority and fought to pin him against the sheet. Surprisingly, though, after a few minutes of wrestling, Hephaestion allowed himself the power of permitting another person into his body.
Their only regret was that, in their eagerness, they'd forgotten oil and hadn't thought to bring pillows, for Hephaestion's back smarted horribly as they lay in the aftermath of their passion. Alexander did his best to comfort the other, almost like a young dog that would, after biting his master playfully, lick the small wound carefully. He kissed Hephaestion and rubbed his lower back lovingly.
"I'm sorry," he murmured time and again, and nuzzled his face into the hollow of Hephaestion's neck, breathing warmly.
When the pain had subsided enough, they pulled back on their now rumpled clothes and, once again, balled up the sheet. Upon returning to the stone manor, it was apparent that everyone was dining. Phillip II and guests were sure to be in the hall; and, though she highly disliked dining with barbarians, Alexander's mother was sure to be there as well.
They quickly passed by the hall, wanting to go unnoticed for the moment; Alexander hurriedly returned to his room with Hephaestion, sure that his father would be demanding his presence within minutes.
"Would you like to come down with me?" he asked Hephaestion with a smile as he changed his robes.
Hephaestion glanced about unsurely. It was clear that he, too, had worked out that Alexander's mother was sure to be there. Alexander knowingly embraced him and kissed him solidly on the mouth. "It's fine, Hephaestion. She can't do anything to you. I won't let her."
The piercing words almost seemed to inject bravery into Hephaestion, and that was enough for him. He finally nodded, borrowed a set of Alexander's robes and, together, they left the chamber for the dining hall. They were both certain that, after having disappeared together and finally reappear with sweaty and flushed skin, everyone would be able to tell exactly what they had chosen to do in opt for arriving for the beginning of dinner.
But suddenly, Alexander found that he didn't care, and that he had cared far too much before that moment. It was ridiculous that he had been more worried than Hephaestion, to the point that he'd tried to hurt his lover both emotionally and physically, no matter that he was still drunk from wine at the time. It was ridiculous that he should fear what other's thought, especially when he prided himself on being his own man with no need for approving opinions. And with an amazing lover like Hephaestion, a lover who would forever stay by his side until death parted them, he realized that he should be proud that they were together, and that he should want everyone to know.
"Let them know," Alexander whispered to himself and Hephaestion as they entered the hall together and many curious eyes turned towards them. "I want them to know."
Author's note: My first Heph/Alex. I'm not exactly a scholar on Alexander's history. This story was largely written based on my imagination and maybe a few slivers of information I remember from Mary Renault's Persian Boy and wikipedia. So – in other words – be gentle if you happen to find something that I've written that contradicts historical fact. Please? D I hope you liked it!