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June 1st, 2004

Iliadfic @ 02:42 pm

Current Mood: geeky geeky
Current Music: Beethoven--Symphony no. 6 ("Pastoral")

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created by the Greek poet Homer. As he's been dead for almost three thousand years, and lived centuries before the invention of copyright laws anyway, all his work is fair game. Some of the details in this fic, however, belong to Wolfgang Peterson and Warner Brothers, producer and distributors of the film Troy, who do have a copyright on their stuff. Polymedes and Diolochus don’t belong to anybody, because I made them up.
Posted by: Elspeth (AKA Elspethdixon).
Author's Notes: This ficlet is a combination of Troy-canon and Iliad-canon. If you've only seen the film, the important differences to note are that Patroclus is Achilles' childhood friend, not his cousin, and that Briseis spent an extended period of time (possibly weeks or months) with Achilles before Agamemnon stole her (meaning they actually got to get to know each other before Agamemnon got grabby). Oh yeah, and that Achaean=Greek. If you've only read the book, the difference to note is that Briseis is a priestess from a temple outside Troy and a relative of the Trojan royal family instead simply a random slave girl. Bonus points for those who can spot all the descriptive phrases I stole.
Ships: Pretty heavily implied Achilles/Patroclus. Hmmm… If there's such a thing as pre-slash, can there be pre-poly?

"But you, Patroclus, you would not let me weep… You were always kind."
The Iliad, 19.348

Someone had hacked the head off the statue of Apollo. The golden form of the Archer, kneeling with his arrow pointing out to sea, had been reduced to a headless travesty, the soft metal sheared off by an Achaean sword. More than the dead bodies of Trojan warriors strewn around the temple, more than the hard pressure of the longhaired Achaean's hand on her arm as he hauled her down the bloodstained steps, it was this last and most flagrant outrage that finally drove home to Briseis just how inhuman her captors were. They honoured nothing, not even the gods.

It was then that she gave up struggling, gave up protesting that she was sworn to Apollo and not theirs to touch, not any man's. Men who could deface the statue of a god, in his own shrine, would not care that she was a priestess. The only thing protesting would earn her was death. The two Achaeans who were dragging her between them toward the black-hulled ships would murder her with their bronze swords, slice her head off just like Apollo's.

Briseis stumbled down the steps, tripping over blood-slick stone as the taller of her two captors gave her arm a hard yank, pulling her away from the temple she had sworn to spend her life serving. He hauled her upright again and hustled her onward, over soft, fine sand that slid under her feet, past yet more dead bodies, Trojans and a handful of black-armoured Achaeans, all of them bearing gaping wounds and covered in blood. Every detail seemed to leap out at her with a strange, sharp clarity. One man had an Achaean spear driven straight through his eye, blood and brain tissue oozing out of the hole in his skull. Another had had his neck sliced through just where it joined his shoulder, his head nearly severed from his body. Monsters. The Achaeans were monsters. Ravening beasts hungry for blood. Human life meant nothing to them.

Her life meant nothing to them.

They would violate her just as they had Apollo's temple, and when they had finished, they would kill her, just as they had killed the Trojan soldiers and Apollo's priests.

The only comforting thought Briseis could summon up as she was marched closer and closer to the camp the Achaeans were erecting by their endless row of beached ships was that hopefully, after they had killed her, Apollo would send his arrows of death and plague to strike them all down.


There were times when Patroclus honestly wondered whether setting up camp might not be more work than actual combat. Usually, it only took a few minutes holding his place amidst the Myrmidon’s shield wall to make him decide that no, it wasn’t—seven layers of ox hide and bronze could be heavier than stone after an hour spent using one’s shield to block enemy spears—but it was hard work all the same. Lodges had to be built, tents erected, latrines dug, and all that was only after he and everyone else involved spent ages deciding where the lodges were to be built, who should sleep in which lodge, who got a tent of his own and how close to his commander’s tent it should go, which captain’s men had to set up at the less secure edges of camp, and who should do the digging and the building. Before Patroclus could so much as lay a hand on a stack of building material, he’d had to spend a good quarter hour shouting at Meriones and Idomeneus that no, they couldn’t camp here, the Phthians were camping here, yes, here, right here, because they’d landed their ship first, and it was only fair, and everybody from Crete could go and set up their shelters over there thank you very much, and no, he didn’t care if the Aetolians were already camping there, it wasn’t his problem anyway, and would they please go and take it up with Thoas and the Aetolians and leave the Myrmidons alone.

By the time the Myrmidons’ camp was finally in order, shelters arranged in neat lines and weapons stacked ready to hand, Patroclus was ready to hit someone. The Ithacans, of course, had had their camp set up ages ago, in the absolute best spot on the entire beach. He would have given a pile of gold to know how Odysseus did it.

Achilles owed him for this. He owed him in time and effort and sweat, and Patroclus intended to collect his debt in full.

As he carried a last armload of provisions up from the ships to their newly erected camp, Patroclus was already making plans for said debt collection, involving Achilles, a bottle of olive oil, and the big pile of purple carpets he had just finished laying down in their shelter. He was very determinedly not thinking about Trojan swords, arrows, and spears, and the damage they could wreak on a man’s flesh. Achilles never lost a fight, but the rest of the Myrmidons were not always so blessed. He wanted to be out there with them, not back here lugging wine jars about while his friends… No, he reminded himself. Think purple carpets and naked Achilles. Naked, completely unharmed Achilles.

Patroclus was so busy not thinking about what the Trojans might have done to his comrades that when he arrived at the shelter he would be sharing with Achilles to find Eudorus sitting out front, polishing the nicks out of his sword with a peculiar little smirk on his face, he almost dropped his armful of wine jars.

Patroclus made a desperate grab at a jar that had started to slip earthward, catching it just in time to keep himself from pouring out a completely unintended libation to the gods. “The temple is ours now, then?” he asked, once the wine jar was safe.

“Every statue, slave, and bloodstained flagstone,” Eudorus said with a certain grim pride. “Lord Achilles is busy handing it all over to King Agamemnon now.” He smiled a bit, a tight, cynical little smile, then added, “Menesthius and I saved out a piece or two for him, though. Go inside and see.” He waved a hand at the entrance to the shelter, smile widening and turning real, before turning back to his sword again.

“So, Achilles is all right?” A silly question, really, but he had to make sure.

“Of course.” Eudorus raised his eyebrows slightly and gave Patroclus a look. “Completely drenched in Trojan blood, but the only thing that’s going to hurt is his armour.”

“And Automedon?”

“Your charioteer’s fine too. We lost Polymedes and Diolochus, and Pisander took an arrow in the thigh. He’s with Machaon the healer now, getting it cut out. Bathycles is there too, with a wounded shoulder.”

“Oh.” Polymedes had joined the Myrmidons only days before they had sailed for Troy. He had never been in battle before today. Diolochus had a wife and two sons back in Phthia who would never see him again, now that he slept the sleep of bronze in Apollo’s temple. “Is that everyone?”

“Not exactly, but the rest can wait. Go see what we brought back for your Achilles.” Eudorus nodded toward the shelter again, obviously as eager to show Achilles’ new prize off to someone as he was reluctant to spend any more time listing the wounded and dead.

“Is it golden and shiny?” Patroclus asked, to humour him.

“Even better.”

“Lovely. Take some of this wine to Pisander and Bathycles and I’ll go behold this wonderful prize.”

Eudorus obeyed, relieving Patroclus of two of the wine jars and striding off towards the healer’s tent. Patroclus watched him go, then ducked inside the shelter. This time, he did drop his armful of clay jars, to stand still as a statue with mercifully unbroken pottery rolling about his feet and stare.

There was a half naked woman in his bed.


Briseis couldn’t help flinching at the loud clatter of pottery jars hitting the floor of the little hut. The clay jars of oil in the temple had clattered like that when the Achaeans tipped them over, spilling sacred oil out across the stones in front of the alter. Likely it was only Apollo’s protecting hand that had kept them from kicking one of the braziers over and burning half the temple down. Or perhaps it was simply luck. Surely if Apollo had been protecting them, he would have protected his priests’ lives as well.

She waited for her captor to come and grab her, poised to fight back—against spears and swords she had no chance, but perhaps alone in his quarters he would be easier game. A long, silent moment passed in which he simply stood motionless in the doorway, staring at her. The hollow, sinking feeling in her stomach lessened slightly. Surely Achilles had been bigger and bloodier. And less clumsy.

This Achaean wasn’t him, which meant that maybe she was safe from defilement and death for a little while longer.

“Who are you?” he asked, blue eyes wide in evident surprise. They all had such fair colouring, these Achaeans. Blue and green and hazel eyes instead of brown, and even red or golden hair on some of them. It made them look even more strange and dangerous.

“Does it matter?” Briseis returned. Her name would make no more difference to these men than her status as a servant of the god had. Achilles, said to be the most violent man alive, would not care what her name was when he pinned her down and…

“Yes, since you’re in my bed, it does,” the Achaean said, halting her fearful thoughts.

“Your bed?” Briseis could help asking. “But, but you’re not Achilles. He was taller, and covered in blood.”

One of the fallen wine jars was rocking gently back and forth. The Achaean stretched out a sandal and stilled it, still looking at her with those strange, pale eyes. “No, I’m Patroclus.” He pointed across the little hut to a bed by the opposite wall. There was a pile of purple rugs strewn about in front of it, and a bowl of water stood warming atop a brazier next to it, waiting for someone to come in and wash their hands and face. Perhaps the rugs and brazier had been stolen from a temple somewhere as well. “Achilles sleeps over there.”

“Oh. Then I suppose I should be waiting over there.” Briseis tried to speak calmly, to sound collected, even bored. She was not going to show this Achaean her fear.

“No you shouldn’t.” Patroclus practically growled. His eyes narrowed into something approaching a glare, and he took several steps forward, gliding around the scattered wine jars in a way that was not clumsy in the slightest. He was going to grab her by the throat and throw her down across his bed, going to rip what was left of her torn robes from her body and force her to submit to his lusts.

Briseis, even more terrified than she had been on the steps of the temple, felt tears build up hot and stinging in her eyes.

“No, wait. Don’t cry.” Patroclus was suddenly next to her, crouching down and reaching for her shoulder, and Briseis found herself cringing away from him despite her vow to show no fear.

“Don’t touch me!”

“All right. All right. I won’t,” he said, sounding almost… upset. “Just don’t cry, please. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“No, just rape me,” she spat back at him. “I’d be careful if I were you. They gave me to Achilles, and he might not like soiled goods.” Oh please, let Apollo make him listen. Let him stay his hand and leave her body alone.

He jerked upright again, glaring down at her as if she had struck him. “I am Patroclus son of Menoetius and I do not rape women! And Achilles doesn’t either. What sort of animals do you think we are?”

“The sort of animals who kidnap women and sack the temple of Apollo?” Briseis choked out. “I saw your precious, honourable Achilles spear a man in the throat. And he was smiling! He enjoyed it! He likes killing people, hurting people. What do you think he’ll do to me when he gets here?” She was truly crying now, hot, shameful tears that spilled out despite her attempts to blink them back. “I hope the Lord of the Bow strikes you both dead!”

“You don’t really mean that,” Patroclus said softly. His voice was soothing, pitched in the sort of tones a man used to talk to a panicking horse or a frightened child.

“Yes I do!”

“No you don’t. Come on, calm down. I promise no one will hurt you.” He reached out for her shoulder again and this time she forgot to flinch away. His fingers were rough with calluses, probably from fighting, but the way he laid them against the curve of her shoulder was not rough at all. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I was only surprised to find you in here. And, ah, annoyed, a bit. It’s been a very long day, and I sort of had plans for this evening.” He glanced away from her for a moment toward the other bed, the one Briseis was supposed to be in. “I wasn’t going to hurt you, I swear it by Father Zeus.”

Briseis looked down at the torn skirt of her gown and tried to ignore the warn hand resting on her shoulder. He had had a long day? She had seen men killed right in front of her, seen her home invaded and sacked, been hauled away through a battlefield by bronze-armed Achaeans, and left like an object for a stranger to claim, and this Achaean had had a long day? Misbegotten bastard. She wasn’t going to listen to a word he said, wasn’t even going to look at him.

Patroclus was silent for a long moment, then added, “Achilles isn’t as bad as you think, you know. He can be the sweetest, most generous person in the world when he wants to be. And he’s the bravest man I know, and the best to have at your side in battle. And he always keeps his word.”

“An honest killer is still a killer.”

"We can only be what the gods made us to be," he said, shrugging a little. "Are you going to stop crying now?" She had already stopped, but with her face turned away from him. there was no way for him to tell. He reached out with the hand that wasn't touching her shoulder and lifted her chin, looking her in the eyes. "Good. You're much prettier when you're not crying." He smiled a little, suddenly looking very young and not threatening or dangerous at all.

"Starting without me, Patroclus?"

Both of them started, half turning to face the source of the voice, and Briseis felt the blood stand still in her veins. With the sun spilling through the doorway behind him, Achilles' hair looked as golden as Apollo's, but Apollo did not wear dark, battle-scarred bronze armour, and the sun god's face and arms were not splattered with Trojan blood.

"Achilles!" Patroclus was on his feet in one lithe movement. "I was just-"

"Peace." Achilles held his hands out, palms out-turned. "You know everything I have is yours as well. What's her name?"

"Ah, I don't know." Patroclus cast Briseis a questioning look, and she realised that she never had answered his original question.

"You." Achilles pointed one bloodstained finger at her, and it was all Briseis could do not to cringe back. "What's your name?"

"Briseis, daughter of Briseus." She tried to sit up straighter as she said it, to look and sound unafraid. She was fairly sure now that Patroclus would not hurt her, but Achilles was a different matter altogether. She was, after all, a "gift" meant for his enjoyment. At the very least, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing that she was afraid.

"Briseis," he repeated. "You were there in the temple, weren't you?" As he spoke, he began unbuckling his sword. Briseis waited until the lethally sharp-looking length of bronze was off his belt and leaning against the wall before she answered.

"You mean the temple that you destroyed?"

"Well, yes. Are there any other temples around here?"

She didn't dignify that with an answer. Achilles turned his back to her and began unfastening his armour, starting with the leather gauntlets at his wrists. "Were you a priestess?" he asked.

"I'm training to become a priestess," she said. "At least, I was." This had to be one of the strangest conversations she had ever had. The whole situation didn't feel entirely real. She had awoken this morning a princess of Troy and servant of Apollo, and now she was an Achaean's bed slave. She belonged to this man with the bloody armour and long, golden hair. Like a drinking cup, or a horse. He could do whatever he wanted with her, his men could apparently do whatever they wanted with her, and he and his friend? lieutenant? were talking to her.

Patroclus was kneeling next to Achilles, untying one of the well-made greaves wrapped around his legs. He worked so carefully one would have thought the armour were gold instead of merely bronze and leather. "Gods," he said, so quietly that it was clear he was talking only to Achilles and not to her, "Eudorus was right. You are covered in blood. What did you do, bathe in it?"

"It's only blood, Patroclus. It's not even mine." He shrugged out of the dark, blood-smeared breastplate, and Briseis tried very hard not to stare. Horrifyingly violent animals who butchered men like a lion tearing into a sheepfold were not supposed to be so beautiful.

Patroclus looked up, the clasp of the second greave gone still in his hands, and said, "I'm going to make you prove that. Repeatedly. At length. You owe me for leaving me behind to make camp. I should have been out there with the rest of you."

"You will be next time. I promise." Achilles reached down and laid one hand atop Patroclus's shoulder, and for a moment it was as if Briseis were not even present. The two of them simply looked at one another, neither saying a word, and then Patroclus bent his head down again and finished removing the second greave. Doing so seemed to require a great deal of prolonged physical contact.

"Diolochus is dead," Achilles said after a moment, once the second piece of armour was gone. "But he didn't go down to the house of Death alone. We sent a score of stallion-breaking Trojans with him as an escort." He pulled his foot loose before Patroclus could start on his sandals and crossed to the waiting basin of water, pouring palmfuls of it over his arms and head to wash the blood away. "Get our guest a cup of wine or something, Patroclus. I can take the rest of this off myself." He shook dripping hair out of his face and blinked his eyes clear of water. "And speaking of wine, why are there wine jars all over the floor?"

"It's a long story."

Mere minutes later, Briseis was holding a cup of hot, watered wine in her hands, watching while her two captors cooked dinner over a brazier, something they managed to turn into a long and complicated process that somehow seemed to require even more physical contact than removing armour. It seemed wrong for them to be smiling and laughing, trailing their hands across each other's shoulders and trading punches in the arm over who was going to cut the meat. Disrespectful, almost, when so many Trojans lay dead on the sand, waiting to be carried off and laid on their funeral pyres.

After the food was gone, Achilles fetched out a lyre from a corner of the hut and ordered her to sing. She sang a hymn to Apollo, just to spite him, but he was too busy tying little braids in Patroclus's long, wheat-coloured hair to notice the words.

Briseis spent her first night in the Achaean camp in Patroclus's bed. Alone. She was both relieved, and, strangely, almost disappointed. This way, when she wept in the middle of the night for her friends and her home, neither of them heard her.


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[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 1st, 2004 04:31 pm (UTC)
The Ithacans, of course, had had their camp set up ages ago, in the absolute best spot on the entire beach. He would have given a pile of gold to know how Odysseus did it


Loved the rest of the story. Excellent pre-poly, and also a thought-provoking look at the complexities of war. But I started laughing there, and couldn't stop.

*perves on Sean Bean*
[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 1st, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
I started laughing there, and couldn't stop.

I'm glad you liked my throwaway Odysseus comment. I couldn't write about my second favourite Argive (who so totally got shafted in the movie--or rather, didn't, "cousin" my arse) without mentioning my favourite one at least once.

*perves on Sean Bean*

*Perves with you* That man has got to have one of the most brilliant smiles I've ever seen. It lights up the entire screen.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 2nd, 2004 11:00 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful story.

Poor Briseis. Fully expecting to be raped and manhandled and whatnot, and instead she gets, "Hey, it's a girl. Don't cry! I can't stand it when they cry. No, no, you stay over there, girl. I have no use for that bed anyway, because I am not Achilles's cousin." *ahem*

Well, of course Odysseus gets the best place on the beach. He's Odysseus. Also, I started giggling sometime during Patroclus's negotiations with the other factions and couldn't stop.

...but he was too busy tying little braids in Patroclus's long, wheat-coloured hair to notice the words.
Something about that, I can't exactly pin down what, makes me want to squeak for joy and go 'guh' at the same time.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 3rd, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I have no use for that bed anyway, because I am not Achilles's cousin." *ahem*

Yes! Let's all hear it for Achilles and Patroclus not being cousins. It's funny, I've read the Iliad a bunch of times, and somehow never found the part where it says they were cousins (maybe it's right after the part that explains how Agamemnon was really killed by Briseis and not Clytemnestra).

Well, of course Odysseus gets the best place on the beach. He's Odysseus. Also, I started giggling sometime during Patroclus's negotiations with the other factions and couldn't stop.

Everybody seemed to like that part ^_^. Which is good, because it was my favourite bit to write. I had to stick Odysseus in, even if for only one line--the power of Sean Bean compelled me.

[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 29th, 2004 02:59 pm (UTC)
I like this tremendously. Great look into warfare and its nastiness, and I adored how you fleshed out Patroclus. Do you mind if I friend you so that I can keep up with future developments?
[User Picture Icon]
Date:August 3rd, 2004 09:02 am (UTC)
Not at all ^_^. Go right ahead. I should warn you, though, I probably won't be writing many more Troy fics--that one was sort of a one-off.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 29th, 2004 06:12 pm (UTC)
I came here through guede_mazaka and wow am I glad I did. This is great! I am so intrigued. Pre-poly, yay! I cannot wait for more of this. You should definately post it in troygasm.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:June 29th, 2004 06:15 pm (UTC)

Mind if I friend you? I've been reading your PotC fic for a while as well and I just don't want to miss any. ^^
[User Picture Icon]
Date:July 6th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
Sure, go ahead. ^_^ I should warn you, though, I'm devoting more attention to original fic than PotC stuff at present.

(Sorry about the late reply *shakes fist at lj's comment notification bugs*)
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Date:February 13th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
I love this story so much--I read it for the first time a couple of days ago, and just came back to read it again. The way in which you manage to simultaneously tell two utterly different stories (the insanely cute one about Patroclus and Achilles, and the not-at-all cute story of Briseis' capture) is really marvelous--and your final paragraph ties the two stories together perfectly. I love your Briseis, she is so understatedly wonderful.

It doesn't look like we share many fandoms, but I like a lot of your recent entries, so I've subscribed to your dw journal--hope you don't mind!

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