Bed of Flames
Disclaimer: I know you are all anxiously awaiting the next chapter of A Change of Action but I just had to churn this one out since it was beating my brains out. It is an AU of course and a what if scenario of one of the scenes in the movie. I hope you enjoy this little tidbit. It is a one-shot so there will not be a sequel but no worries I have some other ideas for stories spiraling around my brain. The song Bed of Flames by Hungry Lucy inspired the title of this fanfiction. Listen to it, the chorus especially, while reading this story.
There were no tears left to shed. She had wept for hours over the death of her cousin, now her eyes were as dry as the warm sand beneath her. Sitting quietly in the corner of the tent, Briseis gazed over with sorrow at her lover and her cousin's killer.
Achilles spoke not one word upon his return from battling Hector of Troy. His mind was still in turmoil over his own cousin's death. Avenging Patrocleus by killing Hector should have brought him satisfaction and yet it left him feeling confused, bitter, and worse than before.
Briseis' presence only added to the mix of emotions that were churning within him. In his rage and sorrow, he had hurt her far worse than Agamemnon ever had. Achilles was not a man who apologized for his actions, the very thought usually leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. In this instance, however he thought it might relieve some of the sadness that threatened to crush them both.
Just as he was about to speak, his lover beat him to the punch.
"You lost your cousin, now you've taken mine. When does it end?" Briseis asked, staring vacantly over at him.
The sound of her voice, so broken and without any of the fight he had grown to love nearly made him weep. Achilles ran the stone down his sword the sound anything but soothing. Whatever apology he wished to make died on his lips. No apology would ever be good enough and so he chose the only answer that made sense. "It never ends."
Briseis sighed as she rose to her feet. His reply stung but she knew it to be true. Men had such a need for revenge and it would never be sated no matter how many they killed. She strode forward giving him one final glance before stepping outside into the cool night.
Eudorus looked over at her with a small amount of sympathy in his grey eyes. He was struggling with his own guilt over the death of Patrocleus. He had seen the growing affection between his lord and the pretty Trojan girl. It was his failure to recognize that it was not Achilles, but his leader's cousin in the armor and this gnawed away at him. The look of utter devastation on Achilles face now forever burned into Eudorus' mind.
She gave him a polite nod of her head then drifted off towards the waters edge. Sitting down Briseis brought her knees up towards her chin and stared out into the ocean. How had it all gone so wrong? They were happy, whatever it was they were starting, they were happy. The fact that she was Trojan and he was a Greek had no meaning anymore. The war could not touch them when they lay in each other's arms. Together they were warm and for the first time in either of their lives; complete.
Briseis felt such an influx of guilt at that last revelation. When she had decided to devote her life to Apollo, it was in the hopes that this major step would bring a sense of fulfillment. Her days spent in the temple, however, were anything but fulfilling and the more she tried to immerse herself in her duties the more lost she felt.
Her first nights in the Greek camp were unpleasant to say the least. Agamemnon had quickly stolen her away from Achilles who had strangely piqued her curiosity those first moments they had met. Once she was back in Achilles care, Briseis found an almost vulnerable side of the great warrior. He had masked it with pride, arrogance, and a sense of humor that continually provoked her.
Ever a loyal Trojan and fearful that Achilles kind nature would turn, she had dared try to kill her captor. Brandishing one of Achilles daggers, she had crept across the tent to where he slept and readied to take her first life.
Her hand shook as she placed the edge of the blade against Achilles neck. What she was doing was just was it not? He had slaughtered so many of her countrymen and he would continue to do so until someone stopped him. Why should it not be her? Briseis' mind went on endlessly that taking this man's life would bring peace back to her country and yet he had shown her only kindness. Besides, priestesses do not shed another human beings blood, the priests were firm on that instruction. No, this man deserved to die, did he not?
Her hesitation cost her the element of surprise or perhaps she had never had it to begin with.
"Do it." Achilles whispered as his eyes opened and he turned his head to look upon the beauty above him. "Nothing is easier."
His voice sent a tremble through her body and it irritated her that he had such an affect on her. Briseis looked down at him anger in her eyes, "Aren't you afraid?"
Achilles blinked, obviously amused at her question but unfazed at his current position in this little confrontation. "Everyone dies, today or fifty years from now what does it matter?" As he spoke, he lifted his arms, grabbed her arms in his rough hands and pulled her down, closer to him before practically growling out, "Do it".
Startled by his actions, Briseis recovered quickly asserting herself and never once pulling the dagger away from his neck. How could he not be frightened? She could easily cut his throat at any moment. Her fingers gripped the handle tightly, the sweat in her palm making it difficult. "You'll kill more men if I don't kill you."
"Many". Achilles reply barely above a whisper and his eyes bored into her as if he were daring her to end his existence.
How she wanted to take up his dare, driving the blade through his skin and dragging it across his bronzed skin. Surely if she did not kill him, he would kill her after this attempt on his life. Briseis ground her teeth together teetering on what path to do. She looked into his eyes, those eyes as blue as the sea yet as hard as the cold steel now against his skin.
Unknowingly she had begun a battle but Achilles ended it as he flipped her onto her back pinning her underneath his warm body. The dagger fell away as his lips made contact with her soft ones.
As she embraced his body close to her own throughout the night, Briseis knew she had embraced a new future.
Briseis wrapped her arms around herself. Achilles had been so gentle in taking her, setting her skin on fire with each caress. He had brought her to heights of pleasure she never imagined before. Afterwards he had held her trembling body in his arms.
It was a moment so painful to think about now. Those hands that had touched her with such gentleness had turned violent days later. Briseis brought her hand up to the bruises around her neck. Inwardly, Briseis had forgiven him for nearly strangling her after he learned of Patrocleus' death. He had been hurting and like most creatures in pain, he had lashed out. Unfortunately, she and Eudorus had endured the most of it.
Questions, Briseis had so many questions she needed answers to. Why had Apollo led her into this forsaken position? Why had he not protected Hector, defender of his favored city? How could Hector willingly fight Achilles, why had he not refused? Most importantly, why was it that, though Achilles had killed her cousin, she still longed to be with him? The answers to these questions and many more eluded her and so she drifted further into despair.
Briseis sat near the water for a while before rising to her feet. It was time to face her lover once more.
She walked back to the tent slowly. When she got closer, Briseis noticed that the Myrmidons had closed in on Achilles tent. Dread began to fill her as she quickened her pace; soon she was running towards the commotion. Upon reaching the tent, she stopped dead in her tracks at the sight that met her.
Priam, King of Troy and her Uncle was there speaking with Achilles. Gods, he must have snuck into the Greek camp to retrieve Hector's body.
"Briseis?" Priam's voice broke her out of her stupor and she rushed forward to embrace her Uncle. "We thought you were dead, we thought…" No more words would come out and Priam merely held his niece in a tight hug.
Briseis closed her eyes burying her face into her Uncles shoulder before pulling away and looking over at Achilles. His eyes, those blue pools she always seemed to fall into, fixed on her. His next words caught her off guard, "You're free".
She glanced up at Priam only to shyly look back down. The affection in Achilles voice was not lost on the old King and Briseis was sure that her uncle knew there was more between the Myrmidon leader and his niece.
Instead of focusing on Troy's king, Briseis glanced over at Achilles, before moving to his side. He was sending her away and she wondered why that broke her heart all over again.
"If I hurt you…" Achilles spoke softly to her, his head dropping and his voice catching. It did not take him long to compose himself enough to continue, "…it's not what I wanted."
This was his apology of that she was sure. He was a proud man and she was well aware that he could not send her away without offering some kind of apology for all she had endured since his arrival. One of his hands took hold of hers and carefully he dropped his cousins shell necklace into it. Once it lay in her palm he closed her dainty fingers around it and Briseis was quick to cover their clasped hands with her other hand.
"Go, no one will stop you, you have my word." He averted his gaze from the lovely creature, before his emotions got the best of him, and over to Priam who awaited Briseis on the chariot which now held Hector's body.
"Come my girl." Priam called gesturing for his niece to join him.
Achilles took in the sight of Briseis noting every aspect of her, and locking it in his memory. Twelve days without her was going to be harsh but he knew her family would need her now as they mourned their beloved prince. Her eyes pierced into him as if she hated to be leaving but he shook that off as impossible and she was soon standing by her uncle's side on the chariot. "You're a far better King than the one leading this army."
She refused to look back at him as he spoke to Priam. In front of her, shrouded in a black blanket, was her dear cousin. Briseis placed a hand on top of the covering as the chariot began to move forward. Only than, did she peer back at Achilles, his steely gaze lingering on her form until she was out of sight.
They rode through the camp with the Myrmidons guiding them so none of the other Greek dared approach. Her thoughts drifted to Andromache, how crushed Hector's wife must be now. Briseis could only imagine the exquisite grief the princess must be going through. Her guilt returned anew because Briseis was sure that if she had the chance to do it all over again, she would change nothing. Those few days with Achilles had been frightening but she had never felt freer than when she was with him.
As these thoughts raced around her mind, her heart pounded loudly in her chest. How could she face Andromache, look into the princesses' eyes, and tell her that she had given herself to the man who had taken Hector away?
She could not bear seeing the disappointment and hatred in the eyes of those she loved. "Stop…" Her voice was barely above a whisper at first and Priam did not hear her. It was not until she gripped his arm and shouted, "STOP" that the King acknowledged her wish and pulled the chariot to a stop.
The Myrmidons halted their steps curious as to why their leader's woman had shouted so.
"My dear we can not linger here in the Greek camp. There will be time to talk once you are home inside the city." Priam placed one hand on her shoulder trying to calm her but she shrugged it off.
"Your right uncle." Briseis nodded sadly before stepping down off the chariot. She turned to Eudorus who had stepped forward out of concern. "Eudorus, please see that the King returns safely to Troy."
Though confused by the actions of the Trojan lady, Eudorus obeyed her out of respect for Achilles. "Of course milady."
"Briseis, what are you doing child?" Already upset, Priam was growing ever concerned by his niece's actions.
She closed her eyes for a moment before confronting Priam. "I can not return to Troy uncle. There is nothing left there for me. I will no longer be welcomed among our people." Briseis bowed her head as silent tears slid down her cheeks.
Priam shook his head, "Nonsense girl, no matter what has happened to you here; you will always be welcomed with open arms by your family".
His words only filled her with a quiet discontent. "Uncle, I gave myself willingly to the man who murdered your son. Can you honestly say that means nothing to you; that the knowledge of that will not destroy Andromache and Paris?" To blurt it out in such a way was cruel but necessary. His reaction did not go unnoticed and she had her answer before he even spoke.
The old King flinched but tried to hide his discomfort, "Briseis, you have had to suffer much these last few days. Any action you took to stay safe will be forgiven."
"You do not understand. It is not your forgiveness I want. I loved Hector and I mourn him but I will make no apology for what I did. That is something that will never be accepted, not by any Trojan, not even by you." Briseis wiped her eyes, recovering from her emotional outburst. "Please, just go uncle before you are discovered."
Eudorus stepped forward again, "She is right King Priam; it will not be long before Agamemnon gets word of this. You must leave now." He motioned for the Myrmidons to begin walking again.
Under protest, Priam and his chariot began the long trek back to Troy.
Briseis watched the chariot ride forward. Priam kept looking back at her, pleading with his eyes but she would not be deterred. Eudorus remained with Briseis until the chariot was out of sight than turned to her. "Milady, are you sure you wish to do this? My lord Achilles did set you free."
"I am not sure of much anymore Eudorus but yes, it is better this way, for all of us." Briseis kept her gaze forward before turning to look into the myrmidons grey eyes.
"I will return you to Achilles than." Eudorus gave her a polite smile before guiding her back toward the Myrmidon camp. The pair walked quietly back in the direction they had come.
Achilles sat outside Odysseus tent. He had informed Ithaca's king of what he had done and Odysseus was, to say the least, in a state of shock. "When Agamemnon learns of this you can be sure he will throw the tantrum to end all tantrums." Odysseus laughed trying to cheer up his friend but his efforts seemed to be futile. Achilles looked unbelievably miserable. Sighing, "You returned the girl to her family?"
Achilles only nodded, his eyes never looked away from the roaring campfire before them.
"I told you before that women only complicate things, especially in war. I am not saying anything against the girl my friend but I fear that things will only get worse now that Hector is dead. Better the girl be with her family than on this beach in close reach of Agamemnon." Odysseus spoke firmly as he took a sip from his own goblet.
"I did not send her back to protect her from Agamemnon. She deserved to be with her family in their time of mourning. I would not deny her that. Even if I had not, Agamemnon would not dare touch her again. He knows I would cut his throat before he ever put of finger on her." Achilles growled before tossing his goblet to the ground.
Odysseus observed his friend for a moment. Achilles demeanor changed like the wind, there was nothing new about that. This attitude about the Trojan girl ran deeper though and soon he realized just what had happened to his friend. "So, you finally fear something."
Achilles gave Odysseus the brush off, "What are you talking about? I think you have had too much to drink, old friend."
Deciding not to provoke Achilles famous anger, Odysseus let the subject drop and simply laughed. "Perhaps I have but I will need it if I am to sit through another meeting with our King of Kings. In fact, I must be on my way there now." He stood up followed by Achilles.
"I do not know how you even stay awake while that pig of a king goes on and on." Achilles clasped arms with Odysseus, "Well, I am sure that once your meeting is over you will have no trouble in falling asleep."
Odysseus smirked. "Of that we can be sure. And you my friend get some rest." With that, the two parted ways and as Odysseus watched Achilles head back to his men, he could only ponder how his friend had finally found love.
Achilles made his way through the Myrmidon camp. It appeared the men he had sent with Briseis and her uncle, had returned, and he was eager to speak with Eudorus.
Eudorus sat in front of his tent thinking about how he had failed his master the past few days. He should have been able to tell a boy from the man Achilles was and yet Patrocleus had flawlessly portrayed Achilles in every way, everyway but victory at the point of a sword.
Upon Achilles approach, Eudorus moved to stand but Achilles motioned for him to sit.
They sat silently for a moment just starring into the night sky until Achilles spoke. "Forgive me Eudorus. I should never have struck you. You've been a loyal friend all your life."
It was astonishing to the Myrmidon that his master was asking him for forgiveness. "Fighting beside you has been my life's honor my lord. I hope I never disappoint you again."
"It is I who have been the disappointment." Achilles remarked. "Rouse the men you're taking them home."
"Aren't you coming with us?" Eudorus asked, puzzled by Achilles strange request.
Pausing for a moment Achilles mind quickly ran through the plan that had been formulating ever since he watched Briseis ride away. "I have my own battle to fight."
What battle could he possibly have left here in this country, Eudorus wondered. Than it clicked, Achilles was going to get his lady back, unknowing that she had not returned to her people. "Is this about the lady my lord?"
Achilles sighed, "I plan to get her back Eudorus. Agamemnon will eventually find a way to destroy Troy. It will be a bloodbath. I need to make sure she is safe and I don't want our men to be part of this." He looked up into the sky, the stars were sparkling brightly, "It's a beautiful night." Standing up he turned back to Eudorus, leaned down to kiss the man on his forehead. "Go Eudorus, this is the last order I give you." Than began walking away.
Eudorus got to his feet immediately, calling out to Achilles, "My lord, your lady is safe."
Achilles stopped, pivoting on his feet, he glanced back with a question on his lips but Eudorus was quicker.
"The men made sure the King was returned to Troy's gates, but…the lady Briseis refused to join him. She told him that she could not return and bid him leave before Agamemnon discovered his presence. I believe she awaits you in your tent." Eudorus wrapped up the story bowing his head.
This news was unexpected and it took several moments for Achilles to put it all together. When he had, he uttered a quick thank you to Eudorus before retiring to his tent.
Stepping through the tent flaps, he saw her petite form sitting on the edge of the bed. She had her hands folded on her lap and her head bowed but upon his entrance, she lifted her chocolate brown eyes to meet his crystal blue ones.
"Briseis." Achilles strode over to her, not believing that she was there until she reached out, took his hands in hers, and pulled him into a tight embrace. "You were supposed to return to Troy, I set you free." He buried his face in her long locks, breathing in her sweet scent.
"Did you think you would be rid of me so easily?" Briseis questioned, finding her confidence returning just being in his arms.
They sat back down on the bed holding hands still, both unwilling to let go. "What about your family? You should be with them for Hector's funeral games."
Briseis pulled away, stood up and began pacing. "I told my uncle about us, how I had broken my vows to Apollo of my own free will. Do you want to know what his reaction was, what he said?" She stared at her lover and without waiting for a reply, "That they would forgive me". Slowly her irritation surfaced, "FORGIVE ME!"
He could easily see how hurt she was and allowed her to vent her feelings, knowing how important it was for her to do so.
"If I return to Troy now all I would receive is pity; poor Briseis, captured by the Greeks, and used by the murderous Achilles; nothing more than a tale of caution to children. I do not want their pity nor do I need their forgiveness. I am not ashamed or guilt-ridden at what passed between us. I know I should be, but I am not. Would you have me stay in a city that would become nothing more than a prison?"
Achilles stood up taking hold of her shoulders, her hands wrapping around him, and her head coming to rest against his chest. "Of course not, I sent you away because you need to mourn your cousin with those who loved him as much as you did."
Briseis gazed up at him, silent tears in her eyes, "There will be enough people in Troy to mourn Hector. I need not be among them. My presence will only remind them of their loss. My place now, is with you."
He pushed a few strands out of her face. "You are the most stubborn woman I know, besides my mother. As usual you manage to surprise even me."
Briseis remarked. "And I can out stubborn you anytime you wish to put me to the test." She spoke proudly, using one hand to wipe her eyes while giving him a small grin.
Achilles returned her smile with one of his own. One hand moved to cup her chin and he leaned down pressing his lips against hers. Never had he tasted lips as sweet as hers.
Soon enough they lost themselves in the kiss, desperately wishing to shut out the tragedies that had befallen their families. Falling back onto the bed, with her body lying underneath his, Achilles hands lightly touched her bare shoulders. The need for air forced Briseis to pull away first but she remained in his arms. Placing her palms on the sides of his face she whispered, "You asked me once if I would leave Troy. I could not give you the answer you sought because I was scared of what it would mean."
He remembered that night very clearly. That night as she lay nestled in his arms, everything had changed for him. Glory on the battlefield lost any meaning it once had. Achilles pulled one of her hands away from his cheek and kissed the palm. "And now?"
"I will go with you, wherever you go." Briseis quietly replied. "You have lost a cousin and so have I." She leaned her forehead against his, "I can not lose you as well".
Achilles eyes filled with tears as she spoke and he held her tighter, "What have I ever done in my wretched life to be blessed with one such as you fair Briseis?"
Briseis kissed his lips for a moment before pulling away again. "Whatever it was, I thank the gods for it."
He grinned, Briseis and her gods, it always amused him but tonight he would not argue with her. Leaning forward he claimed her lips once more, silencing anymore talk.
Hours later, they lay sleeping, Briseis' head on his chest, one of Achilles powerful arms wrapped around her.
In each other, they would find solace from near overwhelming grief.
Because with each other, they found undeniable love.
I hope you enjoyed my little AU take on this particular scene in the movie. Next up: The final chapter of A Change of Action. Send in those reviews.