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09 October 2008 @ 08:41 pm
Fic: Diplomacy, ch 1  
Title: Diplomacy
Rating: PG? There's some nudity, but they're Greek...
Summary: While Alexander goes on a pilgrimage to the Oracle of Siwah, he sends Hephaestion on an important diplomatic assignment. No more, I don't want to mess it up.

 

It was scorching hot. He lay on a smooth rock under the shade of an olive tree and surrounding rocks. His hand was resting in the water of the sea, which was lapping up against his resting spot. There was something odd, he thought, looking up into the tree, and the sun shining through the leaves. He couldn't remember having ever seen this place before.

 

He turned his head as he heard approaching footsteps but didn't rise as he normally would have. He knew them, but couldn't place where from. For some reason he felt his heart warm at the sound. And down from the rocky slopes above came a young man, more beautiful than any he had ever seen. He was tall, with deep gold hair and eyes as blue as the sea he lay by. He smiled.

 

“What're you doing all the way down here?” the young man asked.

 

What was he doing? He could swear he had only just lay down for a rest; it was the hottest part of the day, and the men had been recommended to sleep through it.

 

The man, who he realized he loved—had always loved—sat down next to him and ran a hand through his hair.

 

Patroklos?” he asked. “Are you feeling okay?”

 

Was that his name? Everything felt so surreal. But he smiled, wishing to keep his love from worrying, and said, “Yeah. I'm just a little tired. You should probably rest too. You don't do enough of it as it is. Ever since we crossed the Helicarnassus, you've been constantly working.”

 

As soon as he said it, it sounded wrong. Achilles had never crossed the Helicarnassus; the Greeks had sailed around the coast. How many times has he gone over it with Alexander?

 

Patroklos?”

 

No,” he said. “That's not right. I'm--”

 

Hephaestion.”

 

And this wasn't his love. He was too tall, his hair too long, his eyes too blue. Hephaestion turned to look into the water.

 

Hephaestion.” A hand laid on his shoulder, and he turned to smack it off.

 

Ow!”

 

With a start, he sat up, looking around. It had been a dream. He was in Egypt, where the afternoon heat had made everyone drowsy. Others lay around him, sleeping as slaves sat or stood with large fans, some of whom had stopped once they found out their charges had fallen asleep. His hand was wet from having rested in the pool next to him. Alexander sat by him, rubbing his eye, apparently having landed on his butt when Hephaestion had smacked him.

 

Sorry,” he said, looking sheepish.

 

Ow,” Alexander said. “It hurts so much more when you aren't expecting it.”

 

I didn't know you were there.”

 

Yes you did. Sort of. You mumbled something—you must have been really asleep, to have been dreaming like that.”

 

I guess I was,” Hephaestion said, rubbing his face. “I still feel groggy. What are you doing up, anyway? It's too hot to be doing anything but sleeping.”

 

I'll go sleep if you come with me,” Alexander said, smiling.

 

Something was on Alexander's mind, he could tell. And idea or decision that seemed to make him either anxious or excited, or maybe a little of both, and he wanted to share it with someone. It must have been on his mind for a while, to suddenly have the need to say something about it. Hephaestion grabbed his chiton and pulled it over his head, and picked up his sandals, but didn't put them on. No point, really; they weren't going far, and he would just take them off again.

 

As they walked down the hallway, Hephaestion glanced at Alexander. He was touching his eye gingerly, testing it for bruising. It would probably change colour a little, but hardly enough to really worry so much about. Hephaestion came to a halt and grabbed his lover's arm.

 

Here, let me see,” he said, leaning forward to look where he had hit.

 

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to it. He stood straight again to see Alexander scowling at him.

 

I'm not a little kid who needs all his hurts kissed better,” he said.

 

Hephaestion laughed. “You certainly are acting like it.”

 

Come on.” Alexander continued walking down the corridor. As they walked, Hephaestion let his hand brush the hieroglyphs on the wall, looking up to the pharaohs, their activities caught as a single moment in time, meant to last for an eternity. Someday, he thought, Alexander would be up there too.

 

The king's rooms were large and bright. The page by the door had fallen asleep, and blushed when Hephaestion nudged him awake. A few slaves were lounging, but jumped to their feet the moment they saw the two men enter.

 

Leave us,” Alexander said.

 

There was a moment of hesitation, as they all looked toward a much older man standing by the door. The old man gave a word, and the room emptied. The page closed the door behind them.

 

They're good, but can barely understand a word of Greek,” Alexander said, giving a wry smile as he loosened his belt and pulled off his chiton. “Ironic, isn't it? Considering how long Egypt has had a good relationship with Greece. But then, you can't expect too much from slaves, can you?”

 

Hephaestion followed Alexander's lead, and lay next to him on the bed. For a while they just lay together in silence, enjoying each other's company. Alexander brushed his hand along his lover's arm and shoulder, coming to rest on the other man's side. Hephaestion buried his hand in Alexander's hair and smiled at him.

 

Hephaestion...I just noticed...you're wearing makeup.

 

Hephaestion laughed. “I was told that the eyeliner helps keep the sun out of your eyes, makes it easier to see.”

 

Does it?”

 

Surprisingly enough, it does.” He grinned. “Does it make me look womanly, or Egyptian?”

 

Alexander considered for a moment. “Well,” he said. “I don't thing anything would make you look womanly. But by no stretch are you Egyptian. It just looks...strange.”

 

Hephaestion laughed. “It's kind of annoying, actually. A pain to get both on and off, and my face feels heavy.”

 

You should try wearing that fake beard.”

 

After a few moments, Alexander asked quietly, “What were you dreaming about? When I woke you up.”

 

Hephaestion rolled onto his back, trying to think of how to explain. “Well,” he said. “You know how when you dream...I was myself, but at the same time I wasn't. You know that feeling?” Alexander nodded. “Well...it was like that.” Alexander looked intently at his lover as the dream was described. “And I had turned around, and I felt your hand and tried to smack it away,” Hephaestion finished.

 

And hit me in the face in the process.” Alexander's eyes were glittering strangely. “You should ask what it means.”

 

No. I'd rather not. It's not the kind of thing I really want to go around boasting about. I don't know if many people would really believe I dreamt that, and didn't just make the whole thing up. Besides, I think I'd prefer if this were just for you and me.” He turned to see Alexander smiling softly at him. “What about you? There was something you wanted to talk about.”

 

You could always see right through me.”

 

Someone has to. Everyone needs someone like that,” Hephaestion said. “Besides, you remember that story in Symposium? About the people rolling around like wheels?”

 

Alexander laughed. “I suppose we were lucky. I found my other half.” He paused for a moment, then said, “I want to make a pilgrimage. To Siwah.” When Hephaestion didn't say anything, he sighed. “I just...I don't know. There are things I want to know. Maybe just to get closure.”

 

There weren't many things that they didn't talk about, but this was one of them. He wanted his plans known, and maybe just a little approval. But there wasn't really anything that would stop him, and Hephaestion knew that Alexander considered what transpired between a person and the gods in an Oracle to be personal. He wouldn't ask or expect to be told anything that happened.

 

Another thing,” the king continued. “I got a message from Athens. From Demosthenes.”

 

What?” Hephaestion's face darkened. “What did he want?”

 

A reconciliation,” Alexander said, giving a small laugh. “After dedicating his entire existence to rallying the great people of Athens to crush first my father, then me, the old geezer wants to come to terms with me.”

 

What will you do?”

 

Send someone else to find out whether it's worth it to listen to him first. If it is, then I suppose I had better go talk to bastard.”

 

Who are you going to send?”

 

You.”

 

What?” Hephaestion sat up suddenly. “Why me? I can't do this kind of thing.”

 

Says who?” Alexander asked. “Have you ever tried?”

 

No. That's the point.”

 

Oh, come on,” Alexander said, pulling his friend to lay back down. “It's not that big of a thing. And besides, you seem the best choice. You can be shrewd while remaining charming, won't look down so much on the Athenians, and most importantly, you know how to judge whether I would be willing to waste my time on them. You know me the best. Besides, you can take this as a chance to advance your career.”

 

And you say that you don't do favourites.” Hephaestion pulled Alexander against him, and said, “Now get some rest."



Notes:

I have never started anything quite like that before. I thought it would be interesting, even if it was completely unrelated to the rest of the story. And, let's face it, I'm a really big loser like that. (Oh, and it means I'm totally justified in promoting greek_love ! Yes, I am cheap like that...)

Btw, for those who have been keeping up with my other stuff, I know I'm being inconsistent with how I spell Patroklos. It was a decision with no real reasoning behind it. But I did mean to do it--maybe I just felt like a change of pace.




This story is by no means going to be nearly as epic as In All but Blood. In fact, it's a distraction that is meant to help cure a writer's block/boredom-which-is-caused-by-Deidama (aka, Lack of Patroclus/Achilles)

For those who haven't been following my other shit, you just found out how much I like to talk at the end of chapters.

Btw, the thing about eyeliner is true. Look at (american) football players--that's what the stuff under their eyes is for, and the purpose for Egyptian makeup in the first place.

---
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Melt with You - Modern English
 
 
 
I am a Princess trapped in Infinite Darkness: fangirlreikohimesama on October 10th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
Wonderful...

Thanks for writing
See you later, instigator: YTMT - kiss (by hyelle_narmo)oudeteron on October 10th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
This is lovely! You really got the dynamic between them. Very realistic, but at the same time intimate.

About the spelling thing, I think it's just hard to be perfectly consistent. I know I spell Hephaistion originally and Alexander in the Latin version. I've found the system used in Renault's books a nice compromise...
MissTeacakes: beautifulmissteacakes on October 10th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
I think one of the things that gets me is the feeling that some people have is that if both of them are nude, that automatically means that they'll have hot gay!smex. I guess I'm a bit of a contrary person when writing. I have to half-tell people off.

Oh, well I have such a wonderful reason for spelling Hephaestion's name the way I do (not!): I think "e" is a prettier looking letter than "i". I can actually say that my favourite vowel is "e", which sounds just a little lame.

Edited at 2008-10-10 10:29 pm (UTC)
See you later, instigator: Bad Education2oudeteron on October 11th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC)
Hehe, well, you rated it PG, so I wasn't expecting hot smex. There are more reasons to be naked than that, I'd say... XD Being protective of your writing, maybe?

At least it's not some pretentious reason. Personally, I just write it as close to how it's spelled in Greek, otherwise I'd go crazy eventually. (It's easy to remember there's a different suffix, as in Alexander, but vowels could result in quite a mess.)
MissTeacakes: aqueductsmissteacakes on October 11th, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
I don't even think it's being protective; sometimes I feel like I have to prove the vast majority of the population wrong about things. I tend to do the same thing when I choose topics for papers.

As far as I'm concerned, the closest I can get to Greek is Greek. That's the problem with having separate alphabets (irony: "alphabet" stems from Greek). I also try to be somewhat consistent with vowels, anyway, and I absolutely hated seeing Menoetius spelled "Menoitios"--I think it's ugly >.
See you later, instigator: 30StM - Revolution (by blokkengraphics)oudeteron on October 11th, 2008 12:12 pm (UTC)
Alright, then I can relate. It's nice to see someone else with that approach!

You're right about that, of course. (Yeah, I know. What's even funnier is that in my native language, the word for "alphabet" is analogical to it, only referring to the Latin letters instead. XD) Well, it's good to go for consistency - I even think the more "accepted" version is the one you use. Only I don't like messing with the pronunciation, which tends to be different for each. So in the end it's just easier to transcribe the Greek... unless it's something so notorious that using the original spelling would throw off the reader. Compromises. -_-;
debbiemethosdeb on October 11th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
loved it ,loved the tidbit about the eyeliner too ,I learn something educational ,mom would be so proud .
MissTeacakesmissteacakes on October 11th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Eh, it's always good to learn something in what you read--and actually, I only learned it a few weeks ago in my art history class (we were, in fact, talking about Egyptians).

Glad you loved it!
(Deleted comment)
MissTeacakesmissteacakes on October 13th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
That was part of the point--you aren't quite sure what's going on. The idea of not quite getting what's going on.

Well, as to the idea of Hephaestion being Athenian: There's a mention of an "Amyntor" being given Athenian citizenship a couple years before Alexander's sucession, and it's believed that it was the same Amyntor that was Hephaestion's father. That would mean that, while Hephaestion, by all reasonable accounts was Macedonian, he might have been an "honourary" Athenian. It's all very complicated, and as far as I'm concerned, seeing how he was by no means living with his parents at that time and all that, he was Macedonian.
(Deleted comment)
MissTeacakesmissteacakes on October 13th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
I think there's a sort of art to using that kind of theory and having it only be a little background fact (one of my favourite fan fictioners writes him as Athenian who grew up in Macedonia, but it's not really a big deal in it). It bugs me when people take anything and use it to make someone a vulnerable outsider who is a victim/prince/whatever. In one of her rants, this girl complained about that kind of thing, actually; she said "everyone's had a ride" in a very disgruntled way.

Btw, just so we're on the same page, I'm not purposely being argumentative for the sake of striking you down. You can insert "for the sake of argument" to whatever I say. I just don't want you to take any of this to heart...
delos13delos13 on February 1st, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
Hi, I found this story by accident (a very long way through different websites), and I quite enjoyed reading it and all the comments that followed.

So, since it's been more than two years from your post, I wonder if you ever wrote next chapter, and the next chapter and so on? It's a nice idea because I don't remember ever reading about Hephaistion/Demosthenes encounter as a story, though I remember it's mentioned several times in passing.
MissTeacakes: alexhephmissteacakes on February 1st, 2012 01:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, geez! Hi! Yeah, this was a vague anecdote I found in one of my history books; I can't remember if they knew for a fact that it was Hephaestion that met with an Athenian envoy, or whether it was just very likely.

Y'know, I sorta faded out of the fandom, due mostly to the audience I was writing to (mostly Jared Leto, pop-culture fans and those unable to conceive of Hephaestion being a guy who didn't need Alexander to protect him), which is rather discouraging. Which is why this idea fizzled out pretty quickly.

If you like, I could continue, though; it has not been unheard of for me to pick up things that I haven't worked on in a very long time, and my plans for this were solid enough to do so. (I'll have to crack open my history books again, though!)
delos13delos13 on February 2nd, 2012 04:09 am (UTC)
I truly think your idea is great and has a great potential.

I will be wonderful if you can go back to your notes and write that story. I don't know about the audience on you LJ, but on FF you'll find those who'd appreciate that kind of a story, I am more than sure.

Can you please let me know what you decided?

Thanks,
~Delos13