He is comatose. The spear that pierced through his ribcage would have easily killed him had he not missed his heart by mere millimetres. Ornate, golden armour and an equally extravagant helmet falls to reveal the soldier underneath it. Out there, Achilles thinks, is a false hearted god laughing in Mount Olympus, howling at his misfortunes. Achilles screams, cries, throws a tantrum that lasts for days before swearing revenge on the man that dared hurt his beloved ─── philtatos. Patroclus.
I should’ve never sent him in my place. This is my own doing.
Like an infant weaned, he weeps beside a still body, still breathing but perhaps better off dead. Hot tears fall down onto a bruised and languid corpse-like Patroclus; Achilles whispers to him, kisses his cheeks and forehead, averts his eyes from the deep wound on his chest, holds his cold fingers, begging every single Olympian to return him ──── to let him see his umber eyes again. His dark skin that once shone underneath the sun is hideously tinted blue, yet Achilles’s only hope is the fact that he was not dead. His tent a somber howl, not even the sea manages to calm him.
A golden shield carved out by Hephaestus himself. A shield of five sections: images of the earth, sky, sea, sun, moon, and stars; two cities, a wedding celebration, a murder trial, an advancing army, wild and domestic beasts, a war in full glory, a field, a vineyard, a meadow, and dancing boys and girls. This shield, gifted to him by his loving mother, who cannot calm his sobbing pleads of death. He waits for you , she would say, be patient and bring forth glory .
His rage; an unstoppable hurricane, a curse that carries across the walls of Troy, leaving behind bloodied and rotten bodies for the gods to see. His rage. His love . Achilles does not stop the bloodbath until Hector’s own blood is dripping from his fingers, until his limp body is dragging behind a chariot.
For days he parades Hector’s corpse in front of the Trojans. For days he incites fear in them, until Priam himself begs for a burial for his deceased son. He is immortal , some would whisper, he cannot be killed . Achilles, however, is nothing but a mere mortal, whose pride surpasses that of a god. It is only when he kills one of their own, the river god Scamander, that Olympus trembles before him. He won’t stop , they sing, not until he’s got all of Troy’s blood on his hands . Apollo tasks himself with stopping him, guiding Paris’ arrow to kill him.
It is his own son, Neoptolemus, that brings forth the fall of Troy. But it is his name they chant.
Achilles. Achilles. Achilles.
He tasted death. He glimpsed, flashing before his eyes, every pure memory he held close to his heart. He saw touches, kisses ─── he saw a face so sweet and untainted by war. He saw himself, all golden curls and blissful ignorance, in a time before his name was associated with death. Before he became a monster. A war machine. A killer. He watched, the remnants of hope and yearning for a happy life with his beloved diminishing, the images of his youth unfold; the picturesque scene of Mount Pelion, the coldness of its rivers, the sweetness of figs, the promise of eternity. He saw his light, his love, his pillar of humanity: Patroclus.
His eyes snap open.
The first thing he notices is the rancid smell of death, the grey gloom of the sky, the sounds of screaming. The second thing is the excruciating pain shooting from his left heel and the inability to move his legs. The third is the fact that he is alive .
The boisterous calamity surrounding him is not of defeat, but rather of the opposite. Visceral displays of victory; of shrill, drunken song; of the screaming of women. A pulsating headache began to form as he slowly sits upright inside what seems to be the healer’s tent. Faint whispers fall on his ears, while the strong odor of medicine and in all likelihood vomit hits his nose, and yet he finds peace amongst the chaos.
“I’m alive.” his voice is raspy, devoid of its usual vibrant strength.
“A miracle indeed.” claims another voice, worn down by the passing of the years and by what seems to be hours of gentle sobbing. Phoinix sits beside him, looking at him with the eyes of a caretaker, visibly red from crying. “You almost didn’t make it. The poison spread rapidly but they managed to save you. Pyrrhus is on his way.”
“Ah,” he says without emotion, the thought of his son bringing nothing but a bitter taste in his mouth.
“Everyone thought you were dead. He sailed once the news got to him.” An understanding smile. Phoinix is aware of the strained relationship between Achilles and his own son. If it were up to him, Achilles would have him drowned in the Aegean upon his birth. This is no child of his. It is of no matter to him if he resided in his own womb for months. Pyrrhus was born out of duty and under force, not love.
“Patroclus,” Achilles speaks, itching to change the subject, “is he...“
There is no need to continue, for Phoinix understands. With a silent nod, he rises and offers an arm. Achilles could put no pressure onto his left leg, the arrow wound still bandaged and still very fresh. Pain shoots through his nerves with the first step and he cries out, yet still he fights to stand. Slowly, both men walk out of the tent, Achilles limping and clinging to Phoinix as they proceed over to Achilles’ tent.
Inside, there seems to be no movement, leaving Achilles to expect the worst. Dread climbs up within him and settles in his chest, suffocating him. The fear and breathlessness is increasing, and Achilles wonders if this is yet another of Apollo’s attempts at killing him. There is no death worse than that of heartbreak.
Phoinix draws the curtains open, looking away, nods at him to go in and parts once he does.
There, on his cushioned bed, sleeps Patroclus. Breathing softly, his colour is back to its warm brown, his eyes fluttering underneath tired eyelids, fingers twitching relentlessly, as if trying to grasp for something, or in this case, someone. Achilles’ heart stops and he feels as if he could die on the spot again. His beloved is beginning to awaken from his long slumber and is desperately trying to find him. Limping, he crosses as quickly as he can over to the bed, recklessly clambering onto it to lay beside his lover. Patroclus’s breathing falters as he is rustled awake, and slowly, their eyes meet. His other half, his perfect match, contrasting him both in appearance and personality. Achilles has always been impulsive, reckless, with only Patroclus managing to reign him in. The one time they have switched roles is the only time that nearly brought them to their doom.
“You’re here.” Patroclus smiles and Achilles feels, for the first time in months, the sun warming him. Overwhelming euphoria swells in his chest as he is enraptured in complete and perfect happiness. Then, suddenly, he begins to cry. Achilles’s hand, graceful yet worn and calloused from war, shakingly caresses Patroclus’ cheek, as if touching him for the first time. The same feeling of meekness and of nerves he had felt when they were both sixteen returns in full bloom.
“I’m here, with you, forever.”
FATHER AND SON.
After a week, Pyrrhus arrives to the Trojan coast. He comes in like a tornado, merciless and leaving debris behind. He is a death sentence to Priam and Paris, he is an erupting volcano. If Achilles is considered a murderer, his son is a bigger monster than he was. Pyrrhus does not have the mercy in him Achilles does; he is a cold-blooded snake whose deadly poison infects the world before swallowing it whole. Achilles is not proud of him.
They meet in his tent; while Patroclus is getting his injury checked by the healers and reuniting with Briseis. Achilles is polishing his helmet, stained with the blood of Hector still, dirtied by the dust. Pyrrhus walks in like a king to his court. Achilles visibly sneers.
“They told me you died,” he is only twelve, but with all the venom of a grown man. His head is a fiery crown, taking mostly after Deidameia and her beauty, but he had his eyes. It only makes Achilles sicker. Deidameia, despite how much resentment he holds against her, does not deserve this child. She deserves better; a better father to her son, a better son to her. Achilles wishes her the love he couldn’t give.
“You’re wounded. So the rumours are true…” Pyrrhus continues.
“You can die.” There, behind his smirk, is a playfulness only a twelve year old could have, much like Achilles’ own, but Pyrrhus bares his teeth like a lion would before it devours its prey.
“But I didn’t,” Achilles spits the words out like venom, his eyes growing darker. By the gods, does he hate him. This was no son of his.
“Unfortunately,” he says, and with that he parts, leaving Achilles behind with his mouth agape.
Achilles throws his helmet to the ground and screams.
The cerulean sea, the undulating to-and-fro of the ship against waves, the smell of liquor. This and this and this. Awakened by the scorching heat of the sun, they now lie, the heavy smell of their lovemaking and sweat enwreathing them. Bliss. Their memories of each other begin anew, silhouetting their bodies with nimble fingers; kissing promises against bare skin, the lullaby of moaned out names hanging in the air, the sublime symphony of hands intertwined. It is slow, it is gentle, it is perfect.
This and this and this.
Patroclus presses a kiss against Achilles’ nose, and he is gifted with a giggle in reply. “I love you,” he sighs, eyes beginning to droop closed. Patroclus’ hands sink into a golden mess of curls, and he brings their mouths together in a lazy kiss. They speak sweet nothings to each other, and sooner than expected their kiss becomes more fervent, more desperate. Sweet nothings turn into passionate pleading as Patroclus’ hot mouth claims Achilles’ exposed shoulder, biting down hard enough to bruise him. Despite their wantonness, they cannot be as rough as they desire, for their wounds are still an obstacle that they can only overcome with time.
“Take me, take me, take me,” Achilles chants the words like a prayer, hooking his right leg over Patroclus’s hip to bring himself on top. Patroclus cringes in mild pain at the newly added weight, and Achilles chuckles apologetically.
“Sorry,” he says, “I forgot.”
“You’re needy, as usual.” Patroclus huffs out a laugh, hands sliding down from Achilles’ shoulder, coming to rest on the curve of his hips.
“Can you blame me? I will hold no longer.”
The sea waves crash in the distance in tune with Achilles’ soft cries of pleasure. There in the distance, across the Aegean sea, is the promise of eternity. The region of Thessaly. Home. Their home.
Peleus seems far older when he receives them with open arms and a tear streaked face. The news that his only son and heir to the throne of Phthia has died has left him grief stricken, and he wears his pain outwardly. Without a wife, without a son, the once acclaimed hero has aged and noticed little that it was his son, Prince Achilles, that brings forth glory. Just like the prophecy has claimed. He has surpassed him. Achilles has become Aristos Achaion .
“Father!” Achilles limps towards him, throwing himself into an embrace. Ten years, the war has lasted. It was ten years of dramatic changes. Peleus now looks frail with age, and he withers by the day like a grape rotten on the vine, while Achilles’ epicene and youthful body has become that of a man.
“My son, my son, ” Patroclus follows behind Achilles, looking at both father and son with a soft smile on his face. The bandages around his chest are constricting, yet he still makes an effort to not wince in pain when Peleus brings him into his embrace, gently caressing his back. “You’re home.”
Both boys meet Chiron again in Mount Pelion, where they recount battle stories. Achilles brags about his death count and his glory, how he felt when his spear punctured a man’s ribs, breaking them. He speaks of how sweet victory had tasted on his lips when he had taken Hector’s life. What has Hector ever done to me, he said once a long time ago . He speaks of Patroclus’ comatose state, and the frightening insecurity and rage he felt without him by his side, and of his own experience with death. Achilles has always been the better one with words, and while Patroclus chimes in occasionally, he mostly keeps to himself, attentive, and happy to listen to whatever Achilles has to say. Their fingers keep twitching next to each other, aching to touch any exposed bit of skin they had to offer each other.
Chiron takes a look at both of their wounds and tends to them, gives them whatever items are necessary for their speedy recovery, and lets both of them stay with him. Achilles is healing faster than Patroclus, but Patroclus has no use for temporary wooden crutches like Achilles does. He has regained feeling in his leg, and with all the poison gone, most of its motion is back. He owes his recovery to the nurses that tended to him before they were aboard the ship back home.
Patroclus’ injury is disinfected and wrapped nice and tight, and so long as he does not put too much pressure on his body, he will heal just fine. Of course, he does not take into account Achilles’ brattiness. Once in their shared cave, they resume the desperate need for each other as if, once again, they were teenagers. The more they heal, the more eager they become to drink in the sight of each other’s nakedness, to taste the salt from each other’s sweat. They dare to experiment with each other in the river one day, despite the discomfort of the rocks on their feet and the pain in their backs. They have to remind themselves that they are no longer sixteen and untouched by the cruelty of combat. There are new scars to be touched over, new pains in their hips, but the strangest thing of all: Achilles begins losing coordination.
It has been about three months since their return from Troy, and a month since their stay in Mount Pelion. Patroclus wakes one morning feeling the coldness of the bed to his left and the sound of Achilles retching in the distance. Worried, Patroclus stands, covering his nudity with his chiton, and follows the heaving sounds. When he finds him, Achilles is on his knees, keeling over the floor, sweating, and distressed.
“Achilles? Is everything alright?” A ridiculous question when one considers the sight of Achilles, helpless and green on the floor. He is clearly beyond alright. Doubt and something yet indecipherable to Patroclus visibly crosses Achilles’ face.
“I’m ─── fine .”
He stands wobbily, and Patroclus catches him before he can fall over. Annoyed, Achilles pushes him away and walks over to the river to drink and clean his face, his cheeks tinted red and the remnants of tears falling from the corners of his eyes. “I’m fine. See?”
But Patroclus didn’t see fine. “Achilles… “
“I need to piss. Don’t look,” he replies shortly, and Patroclus obliges. It is clear Achilles has no intention of sharing his true feelings, so Patroclus leaves to let him do his business in private, retreating back into the cave.
After spending some time clearing his head, the sun having risen high in the sky to warm their cold bodies, Achilles returns, shame heavy on his shoulders. He walks over to Patroclus, who is busy cleaning his face in a water basin, and wraps his arms around him, pressing himself against his broad back. He kisses down his back, eventually slinking down to sit at his feet. Achilles rests his head against Patroclus’s thigh, looking up at him with green eyes the color of a churning sea veiled by long, blonde lashes.
“Come to bed with me?” he propositions, voice intense with lust. His words, sweet and dark with desire, send a shiver down Patroclus’ spine, and a small, stifled moan escapes his lips. Arousal starts to stir between his legs, and he tries his best to ignore it.
“Later, I promise. How’re you feeling? Better?” He turns around, taking Achilles’ hands in his own, his thumbs gently stroking them.
“Better, yeah,” he says, and stands to kiss Patroclus’ forehead. “Sorry for my behaviour, I promise it’s no big deal.”
There is doubt in Patroclus’ eyes when Achilles mentions it. There is definitely something else going on, but for now, he decides to ignore it.
“Just promise me you’ll tell me if it gets serious. I don’t want to lose you.” Patroclus kisses his knuckles, letting his lips linger for a moment.
“Silly, you won’t. Not now. Not ever. “
Bold words for such ephemeral mortals like them. The promise of eternity. It seems like such an ambitious concept for them, whose desires to remain by each other’s sides go against The Fates’ string of life. At 27, they should be married with children; they should be kings. Although Achilles has a son already, he has no desire for a wife. His desire is Patroclus, and Patroclus only. He will reign as a king beside him.
Things are not getting better. Achilles’ illness can not be ignored. He spends two months nauseated and with heavy mood swings. Sometimes, he wakes up in the middle of the night to vomit and cry, other times he can hardly stomach figs and craves red meats instead, the bloodier the better. At night, Patroclus hears him whisper with Chiron, low enough for him not to hear. The second Patroclus appears, they stop, and Achilles waves it off. Nonchalant, he diverts Patroclus’ attention to other things, mostly himself. But still, Patroclus never is able to hear.
Until one day, he does.
It is evening, the sun having long gone to rest and Nyx covering the sky, Asteria following suit. The moon is nearly blinding as Patroclus returns to the cave after nature had called. He is on his way to bid Chiron goodnight, and he is distracted by the pleasant thought of getting Achilles into bed with him when suddenly, he overhears them.
“Does he know?” asks a deep voice, heavy with worry. Chiron.
“No. I’m afraid of what he’ll think. What if…What if he doesn’t want this?” Achilles. Patroclus hides behind a tall rock, crouching down.
“Soon you won’t be able to hide it any longer. How long?”
“Two months now, entering the third, maybe more...I don’t know. We’ve fooled around plenty without taking any precaution. I’m gaining weight, and it’s been months since my last lunar cycle,” he says, his brows knitting together with worry, “that’s how I knew.”
Patroclus almost gasps, realizing of what Achilles speaks of. He throws a hand over his mouth to suppress any traitorous noise, and he keeps listening.
“You have to tell him Achilles. He is not the kind to leave in a situation like this. At least, I hope so.”
Patroclus feels his heart beating impossibly fast, his breathing shallow.
Achilles is pregnant.
“I want to raise this child with him,” Achilles says with certainty. “Our child, born out of love. I want this. I just hope he wants this too.”
Achilles is pregnant.
Late into the third month, Achilles tells him. They are bathing in the river, cleaning their bodies of last night’s grime. Patroclus sits atop a rock, while Achilles, floating below, smiles up at him. His blindingly beautiful smile; his bright, seafoam green eyes creasing at the edges; his long, blonde curls floating on the river, swaying with the waves — an idyllic image. Droplets of water stick to Achilles’ skin, his nipples perking as the cold air brushes against them. Patroclus wonders what he has done to end up with such divinity, to be able to observe this godlike portrait. He loves him.
He loves the life growing within him.
Achilles swims over to him and stretches out his hand. Patroclus pulls him outside the river and they settle down on the riverbank. Patroclus has never been able to tell him no, and he is enchanted by mere passion.
As soon as they are close enough, Achilles’ hand slides down the firm muscles of Patroclus’s abdomen till his fingertips brush the dark, silky curls at the base of his manhood. A sensation of warmth begins to curl inside of Patroclus, and his arousal grows. Achilles gently takes hold of Patroclus’ hardening cock, stroking him slowly until he is ready. Achilles straddles him, pinning Patroclus down into the grass. He easily rubs himself against Patroclus’ cock, teasing him. Patroclus’ head finds Achilles’ entrance, and he gently slides in. The sudden pressure surrounding him is constricting, and he captures Achilles’ lips in a kiss full of want. The creamy sensation of Achilles’ muscles warm around him sends Patroclus overboard, pure ecstasy and euphoria burning within. Pleasure shoots throughout Achilles’ entire body, as he begs Patroclus not to stop, his legs trembling. Patroclus is calling out his name as he cums. There are moments when they cannot stay away from each other’s heat for too long before one of them seeks it out. Contact is always initiated by Achilles, Patroclus happy to follow and satisfy him.
This time is like their first after the war; slow, careful, sensitive pleasures and breathy moans. When they are done, they lie side by side, Achilles’ right leg wrapped around Patroclus, revelling in the afterglow, both of their bodies exhausted. Achilles goes slack against him and kisses the outline of his jaw, feeling his scruff tickle his lips. Patroclus soothingly traces circles on his back in response, his fingers moving to rest on Achilles’ frontside, finding themselves between his legs. He is dripping wet there, and his shoulders are still slightly shaking from his last orgasm. With the pad of his thumb he rubs Achilles’ nub, drawing out close mouthed moans. His index and middle finger hook inside of Achilles, slowly at first, then faster, finding his sweet spot, Achilles’ toes curling, and coaxing out a second orgasm out of him.
There is something troubling Patroclus, however, as he watches his beloved peacefully. The thought of a living creature residing inside of Achilles’ growing abdomen makes Patroclus pause from moving his fingers. He notices how the afternoon sunlight plays on the subtle curve of Achilles’s abdomen. In his head he had figured he was just gaining weight, after starving himself from Patroclus’ supposed death. And as of recently Patroclus’ mind has been... elsewhere . In part he thinks he was subconsciously avoiding the elephant in the room, focusing more on the gentle curve of his heel, the roseate tint of his nipples, the golden cascade on his head.
Immediately, Achilles looks up with wide, worried eyes, his paranoia suddenly setting in. “You stopped. Is everything alright?”
“I ──── Achilles.” he pulls his fingers out.
He’s looking at him now, brown meeting green.
“If there was something important, something wrong maybe, happening to you. You would tell me, right?”
Achilles pulls away from him, seafoam green eyes scrutinising him and his brow furrowing. He swallows heavily, and Patroclus notices how his fingers begin fumbling with each other.
“Of course I would I ──── why wouldn’t I?” a nervous laugh, and his gaze falters, focusing on a rock nearby, “I tell you everything don’t I?” It sounds more like he was trying to remind himself. Achilles, proud like a god; he is always so sure of himself, of his abilities, of his beauty. He knows no one capable of beating him without divine intervention, he was like an arrow on a bow, straight to the target. No one is capable of making him falter.
No one but Patroclus.
Achilles sits up and gives him his back, visibly shrinking into himself, hugging himself as he looks away. Despite being taller than Patroclus, he has never felt so small, not even when they were both children. He was never one to feel or look vulnerable, he was iron clad in gold. “Patroclus, I need to tell you something...”
Please don’t leave.
“I’m ──── ” he takes a deep breath and he notices how shaky it sounds. A meek sound, like an animal trapped between a predator with no escape.
“I’m with child,” Achilles turns to stare directly into Patroclus’ eyes, a hint of bravery coming back, “Your child.”
There is a long pause, and in Achilles’ mind, he thinks that it is over. He should have known. He should have cast himself into oblivion. There was no fate worse than to live without Patroclus. Achilles whispers an “okay”, mostly to himself and he begins to stand up. Patroclus stops him, a steady hand gripping Achilles’s arm as he gently tugs him to return to his side.
“Wait, Achilles. I ──── I know…” he says softly, reassuring him, “I heard you speak with Chiron. I know.”
“You know...” Achilles says cautiously, a little shaken from the sudden nerves. Patroclus grins, lets out a chuckle, and looks deeply into Achilles eyes. Silly.
“It’s pretty obvious.”
Patroclus’ left hand cups Achilles’ cheek. In response, Achilles buries his face against his neck.
“Would you raise him with me then?” Achilles murmurs sounding unsure, muffled against him, as Achilles’ arms wrap around Patroclus’ waist. Patroclus moves to lift his face to him, and he kisses him then, a quick and innocent peck on the lips. He smiles.
Months pass, and they remain in Mount Pelion throughout the entire duration of Achilles’ pregnancy. Word has been sent to Peleus of the situation. Achilles tells his mother Thetis, and she cannot be more happy for him. One night, Achilles brings Patroclus over to his mother, the sight of his bump growing more distinct over the months. Thetis, despite her initial coldness towards him, has warmed up after taking notice of the happiness he brings her son. Thetis could not love him more than Achilles already did, but it is close. Though she has helped raise Neoptolemus, she has hope Achilles’ new son will bring him far more joy than Neoptolemus has. She embraces Patroclus and gives him her blessings.
Briseis has come home with them after the war and is given a job as a servant inside Peleus’ palace. Patroclus tasks himself with telling her the news on one of the days he returns to Phthia. He has come to retrieve necessary items to help Achilles during the strenuous months that were to come. Briseis hugs him, kissing both of his cheeks in congratulations.
Achilles has become mild, his entire body and face shining with newfound faith and hope. Life is practically pouring out of every pore of his body; his smile having become brighter, his laugh a mellifluous song. Patroclus finds him sometimes, his back propped against a tree, as he strokes his lyre against his belly, singing along to the melody. Other times, he finds him collecting flowers from all over, humming as he plucks out their petals. The best times, however, are those spent with Patroclus. He warms up next to him, since it is easier for him to get cold now, and plays with his fingers.
“What shall we name him?” he asks one day.
“How do you know they’re a he?” Patroclus is on his side, his arms around Achilles’ waist. Six months have passed now, with three more to go.
“I have a feeling. How about Aiakos? It was my grandfather’s name.”
“What if it’s a girl?” Patroclus is stroking his abdomen now, tracing the circumference of his belly.
“Hm… Aristomache, best in battle.”
Patroclus huffs a laugh, kissing the nape of his neck, his beard tickling his skin, “Sounds good Aristos Achaion .”
At this name, Achilles holds Patroclus’ hand away from his belly and bites playfully into it, drawing out a yelp from Patroclus.
“Hey!” he retrieves his hand, and wipes the excess of saliva on his chiton, reprimanding Achilles with a slobbery kiss on his cheek. Achilles breaks into peals of laughter.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl, Achilles,” Patroclus says suddenly, speaking in earnest, “I’ll love them regardless.” He smiles.
“Besides, we still have three more months to think about names. Go to sleep, you’re fatigued and need your rest,” Patroclus says, his hand returning to stroke his belly when suddenly——
He feels movement. Achilles and Patroclus gasp in unison.
“He kicked!” Patroclus exclaims excitedly, kissing Achilles’ cheek and neck repeatedly. “He’s as feisty as you, I see,” he chuckles, but his laughter is strained, as he tries to hold back from sobbing.
“A little warrior.“ Achilles’ voice is as sweet as figs, tender as his hand rests on top of Patroclus’.
After a while of them resting in silence, Achilles turns around, facing Patroclus to look into his dark umber eyes. “I love you, philtatos ,” he whispers, then kisses his chin, fingers tracing the muscles on his abdomen and the scar on his chest, where a spear has once pierced his beautiful dark skin.
“I love you.”
Achilles’ water breaks on his birthday, in April. It happens well after midnight, nearing morning, when Achilles wakes both of them up with a piercing pain in his back and a dampness between his legs. The cramps only increase as time goes on and Patroclus runs to wake Chiron up, saying it is time. Both Chiron and Patroclus help Achilles walk into the part of the cave where the wind blows into their direction, so Achilles can breathe. They lay him down on a makeshift bed, stretch his knees open and begin the long, tiring process of childbirth.
Thetis arrives just in time for Achilles’ labour, having prophesied the delivery moment, and holds Achilles’ hand throughout the process, bringing over a sea breeze into the cave to help soothe him and prevent fainting, as well as giving him myrrh, and other medicinal plants such as Artimisa to aid him.
Patroclus, thankfully, has delivered countless of children into the world, and has no problem aiding the delivery. When the head is first visible, Patroclus weeps with joy, and he brings the baby out with caution. After cutting the cord he looks over the child to see Achilles has delivered a daughter. He carries her gently in his arms as she is crying, taking her first breath of fresh air. Achilles becomes emotional at the sound of her.
“Patroclus, there’s something wro──── “ Achilles is unable to finish his sentence when he is wracked by another contraction, and he screams.
When the second head comes into his line of vision, Patroclus visibly falters. Achilles is having twins. Twins . Patroclus begins to panic.
“Chiron! I… I’ve never ──── “ In all his years, Patroclus has never delivered twins. He looks at Chiron desperately, sweat on his forehead from the stress of assisting the birth and his rising anxiety. Chiron nods in understanding and takes Patroclus’ place. While Chiron helps deliver the second child to the world, Patroclus tries to calm Achilles down by holding his hand. Achilles breathes in and out quickly, near defeated by exhaustion.
“Achilles,” Patroclus says, his voice taut with pain, “you’re crushing my hand.”
“Oh, shut up,” Achilles says, breathlessly.
“ Right, I’m sorry I ──── “
He is cut off by the sight of their second child entering the world with a strong, healthy cry. A boy. Their son.
Achilles leans his head back, eyes closing as his head feels faint. “I want to rest...”
“Please rest, my love,” Patroclus says, pressing a kiss against the side of Achilles’ head, “You’re so strong Achilles, I’m so happy!”
Achilles smiles at him, his tear filled eyes drooping closed and before they know it, he is out like a candle.
Thetis helps clean the newborns with water from a basin and wrap them in fine silk woven by the nereids themselves, a gift from herself. Patroclus helps cleans the blood from Achilles’ thighs, and removes the stained cloth from under him, careful not wake him. Then, he goes to check on the sleeping twins, who have been placed on a satin cushion big enough to fit both of them. Patroclus’ eyes water, not believing this miracle. They are beautiful, and sleeping as peacefully as their father.
Achilles wakes five hours later; by that time it is already afternoon. Patroclus carries the twins over to him, letting him get over the still lingering shock of seeing two babies instead of one, and lets him hold them. Achilles cries with joy. Patroclus cries with him.
“I ──── I still can’t believe there’s two of them… I should’ve have known.” Achilles nuzzles the head of their baby girl.
“I was so scared. When Pyrrhus was born I was aided by the sea nymphs, but it went so fast I’d forgotten the pain. He was taken from me as fast as he came. I was not a good father to him, and Deidameia barely got the chance to be the mother she desired to be. I won’t make the same mistake again.”
When Achilles rests, Thetis sometimes holds the twins, recounting tales of when Achilles was an infant himself. “He wouldn’t stop crying until I held him,” she says with a beaming smile. “A needy one, always.”
“Tell me about it.” Patroclus replies, laughter bubbling inside him and a knowing look on his face. Thetis laughs with him and she continues talking, lulling the twins to sleep with her soothing voice like sea waves and her touch like foam.
“The very first time I introduced him to Peleus,” she continues, “he vomited onto his robes!” She is laughing more earnestly now, Patroclus had never seen her so happy. “I was so proud of him, my little warrior. These two, I foresee, will be just as strong as he is, and just as smart as yourself, my sweet boy.”
Patroclus kisses her cheek in gratitude.
Ten days pass until it is time for the official naming ceremony for the twins. Patroclus is by Achilles’ side, and Thetis is ever present during the entire ordeal and the remaining thirty days it takes for Achilles to rest with his children. Word has already been sent to Peleus about the children’s birth and festivities were to be thrown once Achilles returns to the palace in full health.
“What are you going to name them?” Patroclus asks, watching as Achilles kisses their daughter on her forehead.
“Aristomache.” he coos, a smile on his face, then he nuzzles the faint hint of brown curls on her head. “And Philokrates,” he says, and kisses the baby boy’s cheek. Philokrates makes a small, annoyed sound in return, which causes Achilles to laugh, pure mirth exuding from him. Patroclus kisses Achilles’ temple, wrapping an arm around his shoulders as he nuzzles the side of his head, and he beams at his children. His. Theirs .
After forty days, Achilles and Patroclus return to the palace, with a celebration underway for the birth of the twins. Aristomache, the older of the two by seven minutes, and the younger Philokrates are formally presented to Peleus and the rest of the servants in the palace. A public purification, the sacrifice of a dog, and the burning of incense to purify the body of Achilles and the twins take place, followed by a feast and cakes. The twins are given their own section in the palace and a crib big enough to fit both of them, made of purple silk and decorated with gold to befit royalty. The room is next to Achilles’, which he shares with Patroclus.
Achilles cradles Aristomache while Patroclus cradles Philokratos as they carry them both to their rooms and nestle them down into their crib. Naturally, the twins seek each other, fitting like puzzles as they nuzzle for warmth. Achilles’ chest burns like sunbeams; he cannot be any more full of love as he already is. He leans against Patroclus, kissing his temple and letting the tears flow freely.
“They look so much like you. I love them, I love you.” Achilles embraces Patroclus then, shedding tears of happiness.
Everything is perfect.
Six years later.
Two children, a boy and a girl, both with bronze skin and heavy brown curls, seafoam green eyes, the stamina of a warrior, the kindness of a healer, the divinity of a god, chase each other throughout the sands of the nearby sea. Their laughter rings across the oceans, filled with glee and excitement. To be young and full of bliss, Achilles thinks. He lies next to Patroclus, their bodies warm underneath the gleaming sun, tracing each other’s bodies with their fingers, toes curling into the sand. Both of them were 34 now; Peleus has passed, giving the kingdom to be reigned by Achilles, both of his children now prince and princess of Phthia. News of Neoptolemus’ death reaches across the Aegean, and if Achilles is to be bold and honest, he does not care. He has, back in the place he calls home, everything he could ever want.
As Achilles’ therapon , Patroclus rules beside his king as his advisor and closest companion, just like he promised. Phthia sees an earnest amount of growth during the beginning of Achilles’ mandate. Thetis, with Peleus gone, returns to wandering the palace grounds, to visit her grandchildren and her beloved son. Briseis becomes the official caretaker of the twins as they grow, Patroclus teaches them how to speak and Chiron guides them through the same lessons he taught Achilles and Patroclus back in Pelion as teenagers.
“You kept your promise,” Achilles begins, after a long period of silence and watching the sunset on the horizon, their children laughing in the background.
“Did I?” Patroclus turns to him, an arm under his head as he watches him, beautiful. Achilles leans to run his hand down his strong arms. A beard has begun to grow in full on Patroclus’ face, ageing him and making him much more handsome than before, and the sunlight drips down his body like a kiss, tinting his eyes a brilliant honey-like colour.
“You made me the happiest hero to ever live...” The tale of Achilles’ victory in Troy has become one of the most retold by historians and poets, always making sure to mention Patroclus’ bravery in fooling the Trojans. They are both, Aristos Achaion .
“You’ve given me love, you’ve given me happiness, you’re the reason the sun rises and my world brightens. You’re the reason I wake up loving life, the reason for gifting me the two most beautiful children I could’ve ever hoped for. You’re the reason. Glory tastes nowhere near as sweet as your love does.” A tear prickles Achilles’ eye, and his luminescent smile blinds Patroclus. Oh, how crazy he makes him.
“I promised to give you eternity,” Patroclus begins, wiping the tear falling down Achilles’ cheek. “I will never leave. It will be like this, always, for as long as you let me.”
“Patroclus… to be by your side, has been the greatest victory of all.”
This, and this, and this.
The sea breeze blows, and the cerulean sea sings the song of eternity, above the sands of time. The gods watch the greatest heroes to exist; Achilles and Patroclus, never one without the other. The sun sets and both men stand to return to the palace, calling out their children’s names as both come running, exhausted and sweating from playing all day, and they take their hands.