The first chapter of my current "Troy" fic, for those interested...
Oh! Even if you don't like reading fanfics--or slash--you might like seeing my banner! It's the first thing under the cut here. (smile) I think it turned out rather nicely, actually!
Title: "The Stone" 1/WIP
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (camelotslash-1 -at- qwest.net)
Date: July 30, 2004
Archive: Sure, contact me first, please [template must stay with fic]
Archived: At CamelotSlash.Com
Disclaimer: Don't own them and mean no infringement or disrespect. No money made, it's merely for fun.
Summary: Prince Paris of Troy sits and reflects on his life the night after facing King Menelaus in single combat...
Warnings: Slash. If you're not into male/male pairings, this wouldn't be a fic you'd want to read. Incest. (Yes, it was common in ancient times, so get over it or skip reading!) Angst. Mild sexual content. References to violence (in violent times).
Beta: Thanks as always to Mistress Marilyn for her wonderful help. Any mistakes are my own, as she's always guarding my fic to avoid putting any mistakes off on readers...
Dedication: Mistress Marilyn -- many thanks for the beta... and for sharing my "Troy" passion!
Author's Notes: I recently saw the movie "Troy" twice within the space of a few days during the re-release in second-run theaters. (Yes -- I did see it several times during the initial release! LOL.) I felt a far greater respect for Orlando Bloom's portrayal of Paris during these viewings -- and more understanding of this sensitive and flawed youth. The basis of my fic is the movie, but I've included several historical references, as well (Paris raised on Mt. Ida, him sitting at his mirror when Hector comes bloody from battle, etc.). I love the myth and am enamored of the film!
Written for our website AND the Troy-Fanfic list at Yahoo! that Mistress Marilyn and I co-moderate:
Join Here (we'd love to welcome you there!)
'Time heals all wounds' -- or so they say. I suppose it's true, but as I sit here alone -- holding my stone inside my palm -- I wonder if this wound inside me will ever heal.
I was a youth -- close to crossing into manhood -- when my brother Hector gave this clever thing to me. He'd found me that day in the stables of the great city of Troy, where I had gone to lie face down in the hay to sob out my latest sorrow.
The other youths of my same age were often unkind in those days. I was set to study, train and play with the sons of nobles who also lived in the city's Citadel, which was now where I resided.
But as a boy I'd grown up free and wild, wandering my home on Mt. Ida. I'd worn only what a farm boy wore; I generally roamed barefoot as I took my bow to hand to hunt for game. I drank goat's milk and ate goat's cheese and herded goats and wild cattle on the rocky ranges, wearing little more than a cloth girdle and sleeveless jacket that exposed my chest in fair weather and foul. My skin was red and roughened then by sun and wind. I cared not how my curls were disheveled, filled with leaf and twig. I had no vanity then.
This vanity came when I entered into Troy and had my first bath inside a stone pool as large as many of the natural pools I'd bathed in back in the mountains. I recall rising dripping from the water of that bath and hearing a sharp intake of breath from the servant who attended me.
"What?" I asked rudely, ready enough to take offense.
His eyes were wide with fear at my tone, and he stammered his response. "It's... only that you're so beautiful, my Lord," he answered, blushing.
I spent that entire day in front of the mirror, brushing my hair and marveling at my own reflection. I prayed to Aphrodite that I might be fairer still -- the fairest of all men. What a deadly trap beauty can be!
But in truth boys at play will only find the beauty of another something to envy and revile. I learned this quickly enough when I was taunted and shoved about, spat upon and laughed at.
"They didn't want you, you know," one large, splotchy-faced youth dressed in finery told me in gloating tones. "They put you on the rocks on the side of Mt. Ida so the crows could have you." He shoved me down and I fell on my back in the dusty street.
By then I knew the story, of course. I knew the prophecy and why I'd been left as a babe to die in the wilds. It was a common enough practice to do this, so that generally no one gave it a second thought -- or even bothered to speak of it. And after all, I was supposed to cause the fall of Troy. What a small thing to place a newborn to the will of the gods in light of such calamity!
I am beautiful. This is true. I catch the eye of many -- and heads turn to follow me as I walk through the streets and halls. Both women and men of all ages desire me. And such attention brings with it large doses of resentment and envy.
"He's not even King Priam's son, I've heard," a second youth added, jabbing my ribs with his toe. "How can they know for sure? He's just a pretty goatherd."
I don't know how I managed to rise and break away, but I know there was little of courage -- or beauty -- in my actions. I crawled along in the dirt -- my lip bloodied -- tearing my fine blue-dyed garment and snarling my carefully dressed hair.
Then I ran away. I didn't even try to face them down.
And so he found me, lying in a bed of straw and sobbing more pitifully than any girl...
I felt ashamed for my brother -- the great General of the armies of Troy, leader of the Apollonians -- to find me there, filthy and crying. I turned my head away and curled into a ball. Even then it was partly vanity that drove my shame. I could not bear that he should see my face streaked by dirt and tears -- that he should see my hair tangled and full of straw.
I knew -- even then -- that my brother was not immune to my charms. I sensed that he, too, found me beautiful to look upon...
I remember he sat down beside me then and took me gently into his arms.
The strength flooded back into my body and I threw my arms around his neck and clung to him, sobbing harder.
"I can only guess what they said and did," his deep voice whispered into my ear. "But you must let it go, my brother. Let be."
My tears stopped and I turned to look into his face, my chest still heaving with emotion. "I can't."
He reached out a hand to absently pet my hair as he continued. "You are a prince of Troy, Paris. It does not matter what anyone might say to you. You are above their foolish words."
"You must behave as though the whole world should bow down before you. Never doubt who you are -- or what you are due as a son of King Priam. As my brother."
He helped me to sit straighter then and leaned to me, pressing firm fingers into my shoulder. "You can only be shamed if you allow it, Paris. Be proud. Lift your chin and let your eyes pass over their heads. You are a prince. You are Paris, son of Priam."
"You are Paris, brother of Hector."
And then my regal brother pressed his mouth firmly to mine, kissing me. My body melted into his and I kissed back, awkward but eager.
And so I had my first man there in the stables. And that man was my brother, the great Hector.
It was a thing of strong emotion that burned deep in my vitals as his war-callused hands explored each smooth curve of my body. His murmurings were thick with passion and hard to comprehend -- it mattered not. I only longed to hear him whispering on and on; I only longed to hear my name among the words he spoke.
I found my talent then as I began to mold myself to his needs. I did not require his guidance to put my hands and mouth to good use. I did not need urging to invent ways to incite his ardor, nor to please him.
It took but a little to turn my talent to a skill, even this first time. I remember saying a mental prayer of thanksgiving to Aphrodite that I could learn these things so readily and so well.
After, when we both sat sated and straightening our clothing and hair, he bade me open my hand.
"Take this, Paris. A small gift."
He placed a stone inside my palm. It was the shape of an egg, carved from gray marble and polished smooth to the touch. The size of two large grapes, I suppose. Just right to wrap my fingers around.
"When things are bad, take it inside your hand. No one will notice. Then hold tight to it and hide your pain. Think of what I've told you."
I nodded and put the stone in my pocket.
Then we both rose and I returned to the citadel and bathed. Hector disappeared, probably gone to attend to some business of state.
When I rose from my bath, I had my hair dressed by a servant and I put on my finest clothes. I dabbed myself with exotic perfumes that smelled of expensive spices. I gazed into my mirror and studied my own pale skin and fine form and felt the grip of Narcissus; I felt a great self-love unlike any I had known before. Vanity rose up in my breast and seemed to almost suffocate me.
I lifted my chin and thought to myself, "I am a prince of Troy. I am Paris, son of Priam. I am Paris, brother of Hector."
I reached into my pocket and my fingers stroked the smooth stone -- and I blushed happily in memory of my brother's body and my brother's lust.
I knew then I had the greatest warrior in all of Troy -- and perhaps in all the world -- as my champion. I knew that I could do no wrong that would keep Hector from taking my side and protecting me.
And all this was true for some time. Days and weeks and months passed, and I grew in self-love; I let the admiration of others fly to my head and inflate my ego.
I allowed the great love of my brother to become a tonic for my pride. I abused his devotion, taking it for granted that he would always love me more than any other.
Time has passed, and Helen is here with me now...
These days I find my brother's love is often tinged with exasperation. Nor does he pull me to him -- or drag me to my bed to grapple wildly with me there. No longer does he send some servant to bid me to an obscure room where he might bolt us both inside and fall hungrily to kissing me.
I have Helen. It was my choice.
I also have the scorn of many of the people of Troy and the scorn -- and sorrow -- of my brother.
True, my father seems to know what drove me. He does not seem to turn to blame as others do. I know not why I deserve this kindness from him, as I have set the course of this terrible war -- nor can I seem to change my fate.
Short days ago my beloved brother Hector came to me from the battlefield, mired in blood and sweat and clearly longing to have word with me -- only to find me sitting before my mirror brushing my hair.
He turned away, wordless, and I knew the deepest shame of all.
Better I had been left in the wilds on Mt. Ida. Or better that the goddess had not saved me from the wolves and crows as a babe. Better I had thrown myself into the sea -- or from the very walls of Troy -- than to see Hector turn and walk away.
I shall never know what things he longed to say to me that day.
Nor did it help to clutch the stone inside my palm and think back on many a time when Hector slept tightly at my side. For the stone is too round. The hardness has been blunted by smoothing and polishing. It is a pretty thing, but even the tightest fist cannot make it bite into the flesh enough to help me bear my grief...
The stone -- like me -- is only a lovely bauble. It cannot drive away my pain -- just as I cannot take the pain from Hector's eyes.
Hector saved my life today, as I groveled like a beast in the sands outside our city walls. When Menelaus would have killed me during the single combat I had insisted on, Hector instead killed him.
I had unwittingly given Hector a choice, too, as I lay at his feet wildly grasping his legs in a plea for the help he had always provided. I forced my noble brother to choose between the honor of Troy's pledged word and his love for me. I knew his choice before he made it, though I wonder if he had regret as he plunged his blade through the body of the king of Sparta.
I did not think then to make him prove his love, but only thought of how greatly I wished to live. I saw my life coming to an end and could not face that finality, to my everlasting shame.
Again I crawled along the ground without a thought noble enough to make me stand upright as a true man should. This was but an echo of my youth and early folly.
So now the battle is met -- and I have at last embraced my fate.
It does not matter that Helen is kind and her words gentle. It does not matter that I will live to see another day.
For the war is truly begun this day. The war that will destroy the city of Troy. In the end I am far worse than all the prophesies did foretell.
(I may well have broken his heart, I think.)
My brother turns now to his wife Andromache -- and his son Scamandrius -- for embraces and succor. This day ended with him spending hours confined with our father -- the nobles and generals, as well -- in debates and planning.
I know that I am no longer welcome at counsels. I have only Helen, my bow and my own beauty, now. And I find it is not enough. It is less than nothing.
So from here on I will stand for countless hours and practice with my bow, though I know it will not ease my heavy heart. Yet always in the past when I pull an arrow from my quiver and put it to the bowstring, my mind has been set and calm. I have felt my own strength at such moments and may chance to feel it still once more.
And perhaps while I practice I will hear the echo of my brother's passionate whispers in my ear; perhaps I will feel the ghost of his hot breath upon my cheek.
But it is night now and I sit here, unable to sleep. I have reached cold fingers under my pillow and drawn out the stone into my hand. I have slipped from the bed where Helen sleeps and moved to the balcony that overlooks the city and the sea. On those broad beaches far beyond my sight the enemy's vast armies camp, thousands upon thousands of men ready to slaughter all those whom I hold dear.
The feel of my stone is different now than in times before. Tonight I do not tightly clutch it. Instead, I let it gently rest inside my hand. And stroking it I think of Hector's lips on mine; I remember his body curled against me and remember his tranquil breathing as he slept soundly beside me in my bed.
The blame is mine alone. I made the choice to take Helen. I think that history will not be kind to me -- nor to her. She deserves this revilement far less than I -- I who betrayed the love of my country and father to feel her golden tresses in my hands -- I, who turned from the arms of my brother's devotion to have her pale body beneath me. Yet again has beauty been my downfall -- though this time it was the beauty of the lovely Helen, and not my own.
And my beauty is as cold and hard as the stone inside my hand. It has betrayed me. I have betrayed myself.
But I find some small comfort to know that men must surely remember my beloved brother well. His very name must surely stir the imagination, and inspire heroic deeds. Will not Hector have the glory he so deserves -- in spite of his love for an unworthy brother?
If I could write the words by which men might remember me, what would these be? Would I find some way to lament my fate or shift the blame?
Perhaps I would say no different than the words that cross the lips of Trojans as they gather in the streets to await the doom of war. Perhaps no different words than the jests of rough Greek warriors who wait to breech our city walls.
I would ask only that my great shame be a warning to men through the ages, that my betrayals and weaknesses might remind men to rather be steadfast and strong, that my terrible vanity and self-love might remind men to look inside themselves to seek honor, virtue and love. I would remind them to seek a truer beauty than merely a fair form and lovely face.
I pray that men will look upon the great devotion of my brother and marvel at the depths of what he felt for me, that they will not scorn his actions as weak, nor say the great Hector was betrayed by his love for his brother.
Is it wrong to be kind? Is it wrong to love long and hard?
Put aside your disgust for Helen. For she, too, was blinded by my beauty. Forgive Hector that he did not run me through, for how could he?
The wound inside me does not deserve to heal, I realize. So I bid you not forgive me.
But, I pray you, do not forget my words.
I personally love doing the research--as does Marilyn mistressmarilyn. In fact, Marilyn's research is both an inspiration and help to me!
She's also an amazingly excellent beta, so I'm so lucky to have her to do my fics...
I'm looking forward to staring on the next chapter of this!
(Plus it's fun to code it and put it up at our website! LOL.)
Okay, that's it for now...