Many, many thanks to the lovely Vshendria for beta-reading services extraordinaire. She took a confusing mess and helped me refine the story so that, hopefully, it now makes sense. However, don't blame her for the concept, particularly if this doesn't match your ideas of Hephaistion. That's all my fault. NC-17 slash
by Laura Mason
Tonight, I ...
I cannot write.
I am lower than the vilest of men, for I have behaved ... such weakness, no amount of drink excuses it, and to him, my Alexander...
What would I have done to anyone, no matter their rank, had I found them even contemplating such betrayal?
Hephaistion had drunk more than usual at dinner, and continued a steady pace through the music and dancing that followed, aware that it would be an early night. The generals had already chosen partners for the rest of the evening, and were only awaiting Alexander's departure to seek their own pleasures. Of course they knew. Everyone knew Alexander wasn't in the mood for drinking and reliving old battles, not in this sumptuous Persian palace full of Darius' slaves, all anxious to please their new king.
Everyone knew that the slave most anxious to please Alexander had left the dining room earlier, before the sweets were eaten, dismissed to prepare the bed chamber. Alexander had watched Bagoas go, his eyes smouldering with the promise that he would soon join him. That look stabbed at the heart in Hephaistion's breast, even now.
It had been five days, by the gods. By now, surely Alexander had tired of any new tricks Darius' eunuch could show him. Why on earth was he still bedding the boy? Oh, there was some beauty, symmetry of form -- but Alexander wasn't one to be seduced from what truly mattered by insincere flattery from a pretty whore.
For five days Hephaistion had waited for it to end, watching as Alexander smiled at the boy with his eyes. Waited through five dinners as a part of Alexander's attention always followed the slender figure in those outrageous, gaudy clothes when he was sent to carry dishes from Alexander's hand to the honored guests.
What did Alexander see?
There was no cause for jealousy. Hephaistion still had Alexander's trust; he'd never stopped sharing his thoughts, his feelings -- even, three days ago, he'd willingly shared the letters from home, letting him read Olympias' screed at the same time Alexander first saw it. If that weren't proof enough of their bond, he'd had further confirmation in the way the eunuch quickly slunk out of Alexander's room whenever Hephaistion arrived. He'd even seen the brief flash of hatred, when the kohl-rimmed eyes weren't dropped quickly enough in that faux modesty.
Hephaistion wasn't jealous. He was ... curious, that was all. Alexander didn't discuss the eunuch's love skills, as they had done with whores. No, Alexander would speak of Bagoas deserving tutoring so he could read, or wonder at the boy's love of ancient tales, or even praise the boy's courage, as if such a creature had a true man's heart. But he couldn't, no matter what his birth -- Bagoas' honor had obviously been cut away with the same knife that took his manhood. Why else would he have accepted, even embraced slavery? No Macedonian would endure such a thing without trying to escape, even if it meant death. Better death than living in dishonor as a dancing whore. But these Persians -- bah!
Yet as Alexander rose Hephaistion knew he was on his way to the eunuch now, while he -- Alexander's closest friend -- was dismissed with the rest. Unlike the other guests, Hephaistion lacked a pleasant playmate hanging on his arm, ready for sport. He couldn't enjoy himself with another, not until he knew what it was Alexander found so entrancing with that eunuch.
Enough was enough. The gods had led him and tonight, Hephaistion would take advantage of what he'd discovered their first day in Zadrakarta. He would see for himself how the whore had ensorcelled Alexander.
I cannot write of it. Worse, I cannot face him. Yet I must, long enough to tell him I'm leaving. Collecting the taxes Hyrkania has withheld is a fine excuse, but I still must seek Alexander's permission. Perhaps, if there are enough people in the room, I can avoid meeting his eyes ...
I must try to buy back honor with my efforts. If I shed my blood in his service then, perhaps, I can see the trust in his eyes and not feel that shame should strike me dead.
I have let jealousy lead me to do that which I abhor.
I have foresworn myself, broken sacred vows witnessed by the gods as I lay with Alexander in those happier days when his generosity drove away all questions and fears.
Past his own room, past the hall to the servants' quarters, a stair led to the roof. There was only one room above, sumptuous enough that anyone who saw it would know, immediately, that the room on the floor below, the one which Alexander now occupied, was not the royal chamber.
But Alexander didn't know, for who would tell him? Not Darius' cowering servants, carefully watching every word. Not the eunuch, for he'd never been here before. Like Alexander, the boy had seen the elaborately carved, gilded bed with the fine silk appointments, and settled without question in the room beneath this one. That room was not a quarter the size of the one Hephaistion now silently entered. He passed like a ghost among the elaborate hangings, lamps, sofas, and fireplaces, weaving his way to the furthest corner. The starlight glinted on the thick gold leaf that encrusted every surface in this long-unused royal chamber.
Hephaistion had found this uppermost room the first day, while securing the building with his men. He'd sent them about their business as he examined the room. So had Fate led him to discover Darius' secret. At first he'd thought it simply another Persian perversion, and rather distasteful at that. But then he'd remembered the reputed treachery of the Persian court, and considered how many plots might have been foiled with such devious tools as this.
Now it was Hephaistion's secret, and he told himself he had a right to use it. He, too, was fighting for his life, and against something worse than treason.
In this corner was an elaborate floor mat which covered a window made of thick but marvelously clear glass, coated in some substance that let him see into the room below but protected him from their view. He'd confirmed that fact the same day, standing by while Alexander examined and claimed the lower room as his own. Noted it, yes, but remained silent, telling himself there was no reason to show Alexander the other room, or to furnish more proofs of Persian depravity.
If anyone had accused Hephaistion of keeping the upper chamber a secret so he could make use of it himself, he would have struck them. He had already been expecting what was now common knowledge to the entire army -- that Alexander would bed Darius' eunuch. Only, when Hephaistion had anticipated it, he'd expected it would be over in one or two nights. He'd envisioned himself with Alexander again, laughing at what whore's tricks a painted boy had thought would be pleasing.
Surely, even then, he'd had no fear that Alexander would ever find the eunuch more than a passing fancy?
Beside the window was a low sofa, and what seemed to be a short table to hold a goblet, the base carved with whispering figures. But if one examined this, as Hephaistion had done, one found that the flat tabletop was merely a cap, and the wooden base concealed a hollow clay tube which clearly carried the sounds from below to the ears of the one on the sofa.
Hephaistion now sat in the darkness, his heart pounding, and there was a moment when he could still turn away. But not knowing, not understanding Alexander, was like bearing a hot stone in his breast.
He twitched the mat aside and removed the cap, then slowly leaned forward. For an instant, he set aside the enormity of what he was doing and was merely surprised that he could see so well, even with low-burning night lamps the only illumination. Then he breathed deeply, opening his heart to what he was watching, and really saw them.
Suddenly knowing seemed to burn him just as badly as not knowing had done.
They were kissing -- Alexander was devouring the boy, one hand buried in the dark locks on his head and the other at his waist, pulling him close. The boy had melted into Alexander's grip, their bodies molded together as if he would climb inside Alexander's golden beauty and vanish. The boy's arms moved uneasily, desire to hold Alexander evidently battled by the need to stroke and caress him, and it was almost comical to watch him twitch and clutch. There were no words, but sounds reached Hephaistion -- gasps, moans and wet tongues meshing, and murmurs that made no sense to his ears but further inflamed their passion.
This was the kind of skill Darius had sought for his bed? They were both still clothed! The boy's movements grew wilder, but surely the High King of Persia hadn't allowed his person to be ... mauled in this clumsy fashion?
But when Alexander finally loosed his grip on the boy, and their mouths reluctantly parted for a moment, Bagoas' head fell back and Hephaistion saw beauty that was, truly, fit for royalty. The young face was flushed, lips swollen with their passion, and his eyes glowed with ... lust. It could only be that. The eunuch was not capable of feeling anything more.
Alexander stared at the boy for a long moment before gently running two fingers from the hollow of his temple, over the fine cheekbone and toward the pomegranate lips, which fell open as if to engulf them. But then Alexander moved, instead, gently pushing the boy away from him, towards the bed.
"Lie down, Bagoas. Remove your coat -- just that, and let me see you." His voice was husky, almost gruff. Hephaistion's body remembered the tone, and was stirred.
"My lord..." The boy obeyed, the flush on his face seeming to darken as he unbuttoned and pulled off his clothing. He held the coat for a moment, his hands working to fold it, until Alexander growled, "Drop it." The fabric fluttered to the floor.
At a gesture from Alexander, the boy sat on the bed, and moved to recline. None of his moments were deliberately seductive, to Hephaistion's eyes. The eunuch looked young and awkward, and his arousal was obvious. Yet it was appealing, somehow, both the dream-like pace of his movements and the way his eyes remained locked with Alexander's.
Alexander was removing his own clothing, shrugging out of his tunic and letting it drop to the floor unheeded. He was magnificent, as always -- more so because no jewelry or paint distracted from his golden flesh and the mane of hair that Hephaistion loved to touch. Naked and proud, honorable scars white on the tanned flesh, he stared at the boy as if tasting him with his eyes.
The boy must have felt Alexander's gaze on his pale body, for he writhed and clenched the sheets beneath him, until it seemed Hephaistion should hear his labored breathing and the pounding of his heart. But he didn't speak. His eyes begged silently, pleading for a touch, a kiss -- pleading for love.
Love. Not for another horse, more fancy clothing or gold. The boy Hephaistion had called a whore wanted love from Alexander. Hephaistion couldn't deny that, seeing them now. But a whore couldn't give love in return... could he?
Hephaistion looked away then, and remained turned from the glass even when Bagoas cried out, a wail like a wounded animal telling him Alexander had finally moved to the boy and was touching him... Hephaistion's gaze remained averted, as if fixed on the tapestry adorning the far wall, the stitched landscape ghostly in the moonlight. But he saw nothing, only felt the pain overwhelming his heart. He let it wash over him
Well, he had wanted to see. Surely he had been willfully blind too long.
He returned to watching them, his own body trembling at the sight of their flesh touching, mouths traveling from neck to shoulder to breast to ear, hands gently smoothing while they set fire to each other.
Hephaistion watched Bagoas touch Alexander's cock, his hands reverent -- as if he'd never seen such a beautiful, rare sight before. It was ludicrous. It was ... heartbreaking. And it made Hephaistion's own cock swell and throb as the boy licked and swallowed, every motion a form of worship. Surely that was a skill that had been beaten into him, for Darius' service...
But it didn't seem artful, not as Hephaistion watched their bodies tangle, golden shimmer and moonlight, the boy seeming breakable alongside Alexander's muscular form. Knowing how it felt to have that body rub against him kept Hephaistion on the edge of his traitor's sofa, his own head thrown back just like the boy's, his body also tight and needy, sensitive from head to toe, awaiting Alexander's command. He made sounds that matched those carrying to his ears: gasps and moans and little sobs of pleasure, for he felt every touch Alexander gave the boy in his own body.
Then Alexander moved away from the bed, leaving the boy panting. Hephaistion breathed deeply, and his arousal shifted as his view changed. He watched as Alexander spread the boy wide and poured oil into his hands, and now Hephaistion was the one grunting as he claimed tight, molten flesh. He was the one triumphing, watching himself acclaimed a god in the depths of painted eyes gone mad with passion. He was the one carefully thrusting, in and out, listening to love-nonsense pour from that long, pale throat.
Bagoas cried out as his body peaked, and for the first time, Hephaistion truly felt himself a conqueror, joined with Alexander as he kept moving, head thrown back and face contorted with joy, all his muscles straining in an ever-quickening rhythm.
Hephaistion soiled himself with release at the same moment that, just below, his love marked a eunuch boy as his own. But his shame wasn't complete until Bagoas gathered Alexander into his arms, whispering to him, and Hephaistion's heart twisted in confused jealousy.
There had been a time, when that old fox had first brought the eunuch to camp, that Alexander didn't want him. Hephaistion could have claimed him, then... But he'd been too busy assessing -- and dismissing -- a rival.
Now, alone in a dark room, Hephaistion didn't know which one he wanted more, his Alexander or the boy. Bagoas. Not "the eunuch," not "Darius' boy" -- Bagoas. Beloved of Alexander. Beautiful and loving in a way Hephaistion had never imagined.
For the first time, he wanted something which couldn't be given to him by his Alexander.
I should burn this. I will, but first I must write these words which I may never speak. I intruded upon something sacred. My baseness sickens me, yet the true poison is what I myself felt, while watching them.
I have been smug and ignorant. So wrong, about myself, Alexander, and that ... Bagoas. Surely, now I owe him the courtesy of using his name. I saw a slave, cheaply painted, and looked for nothing more, even when Alexander tried to tell me--
This is madness. Tomorrow I will go to secure Alexander's empire and redeem myself. Yet, even if I can face him again when I return, I will still be changed by what I've learned tonight. I've never wished to hide any part of myself from Alexander before. I -- Bagoas is his, as I am his. I cannot...
Foolishness, this speculation. Alexander will do what his god leads him to do, as always. And I, like the others -- like Bagoas -- will do what the gods have set as my path, and follow him.
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