Chapter: 13, "Year 324 BC"
A/N: This chapter will make people cry, based on previous reviews. I am warning you, so that you may get the box of tissues now.
H/N: We all know what happened towards the end of 324 BC.
"Read it to me," Alexander said as Cassander glanced up from the page with no confidence. Cassander watched as Alexander turned his back to him once more, so that he could stare out at the night. Cassander took a deep breath and licked his lower lip. He then began to read the last letter ever written by Hephaestion Amyntor.
For Alexander, the Great, when I am no longer here to tell him how dear to me he is. This is all that I meant to say, and perhaps never did. So now, I say it.
Alexander, 18th of September, 334
I am glad that you are not here at the moment. You do not need to see me like this. I know that I said I would rest because that is what Philip ordered. Yet you need to know so many things and I know that I have not long to write them down. Forgive Cassander for giving me this pen and paper. He only did what I begged of him to do. He knows not what I write, just that I have told him I can feel my body failing me, and so he did the best he could to soothe me since I am scared and alone.
I am scared. I must admit that because I do not know what you are going to do without me. I am the only thing at times that holds you back from making rash decisions that you will regret later. I worry for you, without me, but know there is nothing that I can do to save you. I am scared, Alexander, so scared to die. I wasn't worried in the battles because at least then I would be giving you some sort of honor. If I died in glory, it would have been accepted. This, this is just some illness.
I look over this book, of these letters I have written, and each one makes me smile. I regret none of it and you should know that. There is nothing I would have rather done with my life. You are everything to me, from the moment I met you, till this very moment. Let me tell you everything, everything that I can, before I can say nothing more.
The first day we met, I knew that I loved you. You were just a boy and I did not know who you were. Yet when I saw you I knew. There is no other way to say it. I just looked at you and knew that I could tell you everything, anything at all, and that you would listen. It was in your eyes I think. Your eyes, they held secrets and I wanted to know them. You told me them and I can never thank you enough for that Alexander.
You let me into your life and you never let me go. Everything that you wanted, when you told me, I wanted too. It wasn't because of what I felt. Eventually I found in my heart that I had wanted everything you had told me. When we were young though I wanted nothing more than to be with you. I could have gone with you to wash Bucephalus after every war, and done nothing more, and I would have been happy.
You gave me the position of general and that was a dream come true, for no matter what you say, I have never deserved such. I can do what you want. I can command a legion and order bridges to be built. Yet in the end I cannot take life as Cassander has. I cannot think from only your side of the army when making plans as Ptolemy and Craterus do. But, in the end, that never mattered. I just needed to make you happy, to please you with what I did accomplish, and I hope that I have done that.
I did love Babylon, Alexander. When we first arrived I was like the others, like everyone. I was in awe. Yet when the awe of it faded, many began not to like the place. They missed home. I even missed home, but my home had been with you, and it always has been so I let that go. Babylon was not all that I thought it would be once we had it. I thought that you would be happy there and would remain there, even though in the back of my mind I knew I was a fool to think such. It is true though.
When you wanted to go on, and you made that clear just days after we had become settled, I cursed Babylon. I was a fool. I was angry with a city, an inanimate object of all things. I hated it for some time because it was not enough. I thought that I could blame Babylon for your desires to go on. Yet I realize now that you never will settle anywhere. You are a free spirit, which I have always known, and now I see it is never going to be in you to stop. You'll conquer the world and then start at Macedonia and do it all again. That is who you are.
So you thought that I hated Babylon. I do not hate it though. Babylon is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I thank the gods that I got to see it with you. Just as I thanked them when we saw Troy, and went to Siwah, and I even thank them for Bactra.
The only thing that came of Babylon that I was truly unsure of was Bagoas. I know that I said I would not speak of him anymore. But I need you to know that I understand. I don't want you to think that I didn't. I understand what you needed in him, and I accept it, and never have I blamed you. I blamed myself because I thought I was not enough. But I realize now that I was. I see what Bagoas was to you. So know that I hold nothing against him, or against what you two share.
The same goes for Roxanne. I do not understand her as a person. As an idea, and as a wife, I understand what you needed of her. I am glad that she made you happy. I am glad that she will give you the son that I never could have. There are so many things that you found in her that you could not have in me. So I cannot hate her, nor you for having her. I praise her in fact for giving you what you sought. Be good to her, Alexander, as good as you know how to be.
I should long ago have told you what the oracle said in Carmania. I did not, because I did not want for you to worry. Yet I know now that I am going to die. I started to know when I became ill. Telling you would have solved nothing. There is nothing that you can do if the Fates wish it. But at least you will have this to remember me by. You will know that I love you and always have. That is good enough for me.
I do love you Alexander. You are my sun, my stars, my world. There is nothing that is not great about you. I have spent everyday of my life with you, the days that count, and I regret none of them. You think at times that you could have done something else to make me happier. Never think that, Alexander. You did everything I have ever needed from you. You loved me back.
I do not want for you to dwell on my death. I want you to think of me once, and only once, then hide me away in your heart. You must go on because I would expect no less of you. There is so much left for you Alexander. Please, grieve for me for only a moment, then go on living for me. Live, when I cannot, so that I may watch you from my place in the sky.
I shall shine down upon you, as a star, and will guide you when you are lost. Just know that I love you still. Keep living Alexander. That is all that I can tell you. Do not give up on life because it will not give up on you. Take this book of letters, and read it over once, and then never open it again. I want you to get rid of it eventually. I will be in your heart, so you will be strong, and you will not need these anymore.
I love you Alexander. I have never wanted to loose you to this world that you love so much. I know now that I have not. If there is anything that I have not done, or not said, I wish that I would have. I wish that I would have done everything you could have ever wanted me to do. I love you Alexander, and that is what you need to keep in your heart with my name. That I love you.
With all of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my love I must leave you. I am forever in your debt, for showing me what life and love are, and I am eternally grateful. I remain, forever yours.
Cassander stopped speaking. He then reached up and with the back of his hand wiped his own tears away. Looking up, he stared at Alexander's shaking back, but could not find words. There was a moment, and Alexander shook, and then he turned. Cassander had already thought of a thousand things that he would say. What he did say though, he did not expect.
"Burn them," Alexander said softly, then turned away. Cassander held the book for another moment before Alexander turned once more. Upon seeing his face Cassander knew what he must do. Alexander wanted the letters burned. Cassander nodded weakly, and then left the room, with the book of wonders tucked under his arm.
…Babylon… 3 months later … June 9th, 323
Cassander was silent as he entered the room. He did not know any words and was forced to remain silent until the guards and physicians left the room. Many of them said that Alexander would not speak again. Many of them said that he would not make it through the night. Cassander knew better though. He knew Alexander, knew what he was made of, and knew that there was something he was waiting for. The physicians left and Cassander sat down on the chair that was positioned next to the bed.
He sat and then did nothing. For a moment he had to remember that he had sworn, the night Alexander had fallen ill, that he would not cry for him. He vowed not to share a single tear. So he reached out and wrapped his hand around Alexander's, and bit his lower lip, so that the tears would not come. Alexander turned his head and seemed to knowingly nod at him. Whether or not he actually had, Cassander did not know.
There was something that he had come to do. Silently, he took what he had been holding, and he opened it. He began to read. He knew that he would not be able to finish it all, so he picked the best parts of the legend, and began to read them. When he reached the end, he read through it all, twice even. He then looked up and smiled. Alexander was crying, shaking from the fever he had, but was still crying.
Alexander had done this to himself. He had lost the will to live, so he accepted the drink, the drink that he knew was poisoned. The men did not wish to go on. Cassander would have thought they would have tried to persuade Alexander not to go. Yet never would he have thought of this. As soon as he found the bastard that had put the poison in the wine, he would rip them slowly apart, but for now he was calm. He needed now only to be a friend.
He reached out and wiped the tears from Alexander's cheeks. Alexander nodded once more, and Cassander knew what he meant. It meant that it was now time for him to leave. Cassander leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss against Alexander's lips, then one upon his forehead, then stared down at him one last time. He squeezed Alexander's hand for reassurance, then, he left the room. Upon leaving, he glanced down at what he held in his hand. Still, he did not know what to do with it.
He had kept it, when Alexander had said to burn it, because he knew that Alexander would want it when the time came. This was the time. Cassander returned to his room and carefully set Hephaestion's book of letters back down on his bed. Then, as the night wore on, it became clear. Hephaestion had wanted the letters gone. They brought love, but also pain. Cassander stared at them, unsure of whether or not he could now part with them. Smiling softly, he picked the book up, and took it to the fire burning in the corner of the room.
"None of us could ever regret it," Cassander whispered to Hephaestion's soul, which still lingered, and to Alexander's that would soon join him. Then, he tossed the letters into the fire, and watched as the orange flames consumed years worth of work. It consumed not only the work, but the love, pain, agony, despair, joy, grief, beauty, and all other emotions that had been trapped in the pages. Cassander crossed his arms over his chest and watched until there was nothing but ash left, and then he went to his desk, where he picked up his pen and did the boldest thing he had ever done. He began to write down the story of Alexander the Great, the real story, in which nothing would be left out. It, he vowed, would be left for all to know. He owed it to Hephaestion, to Alexander, to all of the men. Yet, above all, he owed it to himself.
"History," he whispered, remembering something that Hephaestion had said long ago, as he began to write, "is only history if it is forgotten."
A/N: I hope that you have all enjoyed. Let me know what you think. Thank you again for reading, and as always, I love you all. Until next time! Baliansword