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a mind at work

Chapter Text

It started pretty innocently. The soldiers of the camp were sitting around several fires, telling each other stories about everything they could think of.

One fire was surrounded by John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Tallmadge, and the Marquis de Lafayette. They, like everyone else, had started with stories from the war, but somehow the conversation had drifted away from that topic and towards tales from their homelands.

Alexander, while normally talking almost non-stop, had been suspiciously quiet during this, something that John hadn’t failed to notice. After looking around to check that, yes, most people were indeed too drunk to care about anyone but themselves, he scooted closer to Alexander and rubbed his back.

It was a wonder they weren’t as drunk, but at least this way they could act as guards and raise alarm in case of an attack.

Meanwhile Lafayette had somehow started to talk about some unclaimed land somewhere in France. John hadn’t really listened, but by the sounds of it, Lafayette was the heir if no one else was found in the next couple of years or something, because he was the closest relative or so.

“Ze problem is, no one knows where ze second son left to. ‘e was a ‘uguenot by ze name of John Faucette and ‘ad to leave ze country as ‘e didn’t wish to change ‘is faith.”

Suddenly focused on the conversation again, Alexander’s eyes grew in size and his mouth dropped open. “Did you just say John Faucette?”

The Frenchman nodded. “Oui, mon ami.

Alexander moved in his arms until he could see Lafayette in the eyes. “A Huguenot who left the France shortly after the Edict of Nantes got revoked in 1685 when he was eighteen?”

Lafayette looked—understandably—stunned. Everyone around the fire was, in fact, because how did he know that?

“Hamilton, what are you talking about?” Tallmadge inquired, but Alexander shushed him so he could hear the Marquis’ reply.

Oui, but no one knows where ‘e left to.”

Alexander took a deep breath. “I believe I do.”

“You do?” Hercules raised an eyebrow.

“Yes,” Alexander nodded. “He married Mary Uppington on Nevis in 1712 and had seven children with her, only two of which, Ann and Rachel, survived into adulthood.” He spoke slower than John could ever recall hearing him.

It was worrying, to be honest. Even when he was ill, he spoke a million miles an hour, but now he was quiet and almost...shy. And that was not a word John ever expected to connect with Alexander.

He was so deep in his thoughts that he didn’t hear the question that Hercules had asked the youngest member of their group or see the looks of disbelief that Burr and Tallmadge were trading.

John did, however, feel when Alexander shook his head before he spoke up again.

“No, both of them have since died. Ann has a daughter of the same name—she is currently living somewhere in New York, I believe—and Rachel had three sons that survived more than a few weeks.”

The expression on his face was very odd, John observed. It was almost as if he was personally involved in this. And given the fact that none of them really knew much about Alexander’s life before he attended King’s College that was actually quite plausible...

“What became of them?” Burr questioned, possibly arriving at the same conclusion that John himself did. But perhaps he thought the family might be some kind of legend on these islands. How would either of them know?

“Peter, the oldest, is the first one, he left St. Croix for South Carolina ages ago. James stayed on the island and became a carpenter.”

South Carolina? Maybe John had met him.

“And ze youngest?” Lafayette asked quietly, inching closer to John and Alexander and putting a hand on the latter’s knee.

Alexander took a deep breath. “Is sitting right here,” he replied pointing at himself.

“That’s not funny, Hamilton,” Burr shook his head after a few seconds of silence.

“I am not lying,” Alexander denied. “Why should I? What would I have to gain from it? Had I not spoken up, this topic wouldn’t ever have come up again. I simply heard my grandfather’s name and reacted as any man would. I asked questions about the details.”

“Alright, alright, Hamilton,” Burr advised, “Calm down a notch.”

“Not helpful, Burr,” Hercules pointed out.

Indeed, Alexander seemed to preparing for another of his famous hour-long monologues. And while John loved him with his whole heart, even he had to admit that it was a bit much sometimes.

“We believe you, Alexander,” John promised his lover, glaring at everyone else, daring them to disagree.

Hercules was quick to voice his agreement, and so was Lafayette, with a huge smile on his face.

Mon ami, zis means we are, ‘ow you say,” he moved his hand in a circular fashion, until he seemed to remember the word. “Related. Zat is the word, oui?”

“Aren’t you a noble?” Tallmadge asked, taken aback by the implications of that statement. “That’s what Marquis means, right?”

Lafayette nodded. “Oui. Zat is correct.”

“So, is Hamilton a noble as well?” Tallmadge continued.

Before anyone could reply—most likely confirming the question—Alexander snorted.

“That’s funny. Noble blood from both sides and still growing up dirt poor. God truly works in mysterious ways.”

“From both sides?” Hercules repeated incredulously.

“My father—the man I assume to be my father,” Alexander corrected himself, “Grew up in an actual castle on the Scottish coast.”

“Not to be rude or anything,” John spoke, “but why didn’t you have money then?”

“A combination of bad luck, order of birth, Johann Lavine—my mother’s husband—and my father’s inability to handle business. According to him, the family ambition skipped him.”

“And you got it instead, I presume?” Lafayette laughed

“Oh, be quiet,” Alexander muttered as the rest joined the Frenchman’s laughter. “I’ll  show you all soon enough. Just you wait.”

“Hate to tell you, Alexander” John managed to say through his laughter, “but you’re proving his point.”

Once they had all calmed down again, Burr stood up and tried to get some of the dust and dirt from his uniform. “Gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll head back to my tent.”

“You’re no fun,” Alex pouted, crossing his arms.

“But he’s probably correct,” Hercules declared, rising from his spot as well. “Goodnight, gentlemen.”

Grumbling, the other four began to stand up and make their ways to their tents as well. One wonders if they were aware of the changed this conversation brought.

Chapter Text

By the time the next morning arrived, most of the men in camp had forgotten that anything noteworthy had happened in Camp. Mostly because they had never known it in the first place.

But some of the men there—Laurens, Mulligan, Marquis de Lafayette, as well as Tallmadge and Hamilton—they knew that something had developed last night, and they knew it was something important. How important exactly, they didn't know, but it was at the very beginning of the chain of developments, so it was more than understandable.

As always, Burr was the first one awake that morning, closely followed by Alexander—how he managed that, despite never falling asleep before the moon had already passed its highest point and the rest of the Camp was already sleeping, would always stay a mystery for them—and then the other four would tumble in one by one.

On this particular day, it was John who woke up next. He debated turning around and sleeping until someone woke him again, but decided fairly quickly that the cold space next to him was too distracting today.

It kept reminding him of the conversation last night and his mind ran wild with the possible implications and consequences that might follow.

Alexander was now discovered to be one of the heirs to some lands somewhere in France. And while John was fairly sure that this wouldn't change anything regarding the emotions they held for one another, but there was still a lot that could possibly change from that.

Granted, since he wasn't the oldest—two older brothers and an older cousin whose sons would be the next in line, if he remembered correctly—most likely there wouldn't be all that many changes, but John worried nevertheless.

This relationship was dangerous as it was and, should it fail—what he definitely doesn't hope, but he had to consider the possibility—he wouldn't be able to let himself be seen grieving after it.

John shook his head to clear his thoughts. There was no point in thinking about this now, he told himself, it was time to enjoy whatever time they had together, until someone discovered them and let them hang.

He sighed as he stood up. Why did his thoughts always have to wander down that road?

John knew exactly why, and that was just another reason not to think about it.

Rubbing his eyes, he left the tent. Where would Aaron and Alexander be at this time? Surely it was too early for them to have any duties unless there had been a new development in which case he would have been woken up as well.

John wandered around aimlessly for a while until he found the two men sitting underneath a tree at the very edge of the Camp.

It was Burr who spotted him first and he motioned for him to step closer.

"Look, Hamilton, Laurens is here," the other man whispered towards Alexander before turning away. "Maybe he can help."

"What is the problem?" John asked as he moved to kneel next to his lover.

Instead of replying, Alexander just hands him a letter. "This arrived sometime this night."

John takes the letter and starts to read it. He can't recognize the handwriting and the author presumed that everyone who would read the letter would know it. He quickly looked at the bottom of the page and discovered it was from someone named Ned Stevens.

Then he returned to actually reading the letter and oh boy. This was terrible. Apparently, Alex's brother James—whose existence John had only become aware of yesterday—had died.

John swallowed before he questioned what that law mentioned in the letter was. It seemed to play a pretty important role in James Hamilton's death.

"Well," Alexander replied. "Basically, as soon as you're sixteen on St. Croix, you're handed a gun and forced to shoot on runaway slaves on signal."

Oh. Oh! That, actually, explained a few things. It was completely and utterly horrible and disgusting, yes, but, sadly, it made a lot of sense.

"And your bro-" John stopped when he noticed Burr shaking his head energetically. "James, he got caught in the crossfire or…?"

Alexander shook his head. "No!" He corrected, placing a lot of emphasis into one single word and shaking his head emphatically. "No, James protected the slave they were hunting. And it was Ajax. Of course it had to be Ajax out of all people." John's lover seemed to be close to tears—and, quite frankly—it was a wonder he wasn't already crying.

"Who is Ajax?" Burr inquired. Apparently they hadn't gotten to that point without John.

"My friend," Alexander whispered. "Before my mother died, he belonged to my family. Ajax was assigned to me, but he was always more my friend than anything. I never saw him again after my mother died. And now he's dead and James is as well…" Alexander trailed off and started crying quietly.

Not knowing what else to do, John simply sat next to Alexander without saying a word and rubbed cycles on his back until the other man calmed down. During that time Burr stood to the side awkwardly, clearly wanting to help but unsure as to how and afraid of overstepping a boundary.

Eventually Alexander calmed down enough that he agreed to return to the others who were likely worrying since the three of them had disappeared without telling anyone else.

There was a small part of John that questioned the timing of that letter as they got up and made their way back towards the Camp, but he instantly dismissed that concern. The letter had taken weeks to get here, it was simply a coincidence that it arrived the day after they had discovered

"Ah, zhere you are!" Lafayette exclaimed when they eventually returned to their tent. "I was wondering where you 'ad left to!"

John simply shook his head and motioned to Alexander was still clearly distressed.

"Je suis désolé, mon ami. Qu'est-il arrivé? 'ow can I help?"

Seeing Hercules and Tallmadge hurrying towards them, John smiled. He was glad that he found such great friends.