Chapter 1: The Meeting
When George first sees this boy that his advisor has brought him he’s half tempted to laugh and dismiss him. The man standing before him was scrawny, looks like he hadn’t enjoyed a full meal in his entire life, and couldn’t be more than nineteen, at most.
Yet, this was the renowned Hamilton that he’d heard his comrades rave about, the one who stole British canons. This boy had been approached by some of the best, and he turned them down. Why?
For the most part this child was unassuming, he stood before George without judgement, his arms tucked respectfully behind his back and his gaze tilted downwards.
“Have I done something wrong, sir?” Washington needed to figure this boy out in the span of five minutes, he chose his words wisely.
“On the contrary, I called you here because our odds are beyond scary.” At this Hamilton looked up, his brow furrowed in mild confusion. “Your reputation precedes you, but I have to laugh.” George played on the boys pride, trying to get a sense of his person.
“Sir?” He kept his expression guarded, not making a move until he knew he could keep control of the situation.
In all the other meetings he’d had with prospective young men, George had, at least as far as a five minute meeting could go, figured out the basics of their characters, who they were. With Hamilton, he couldn’t.
He’d been told that this boy’s pride was about as hot as his temper, and his respect was a hard won prize. He was quick to act or speak before thinking yet asserted a certain cleverness. Above all, he was told of the boy’s skill and proficiency with the quill.
“Hamilton, how come no one can get you on their staff?” George moved from behind his desk to the liquor, pouring himself a glass. His goal was to seem casual, non-threatening. Everything about this boy screamed that he would lose him if he went on the defensive.
“Sir!” He starts forward, ready to defend himself, but stopped short as George raised a placating hand.
“Don’t get me wrong, you’re a young man of great renown.” Washington offered Hamilton a drink but the boy shook his head, quelled for now. He resumed his stance as the respectful subordinate. “I know you stole British canons when we were still downtown,” he watches the boy carefully from behind the rim of his glass “Nathaniel Greene and Henry Knox wanted to hire you…”
“To be their secretary, I don’t think so.” There it is.
“Now why are you upset?” Despite the nature of his words his tone betrayed his amusement.
It seemed to occur to Hamilton that he may have offended or disrespected his general, for he began to glare down at the floor once more.
Washington had seen something just now, he knew he had. For some inexplicable reason Washington found that this boy in front of him, who by no means should do so, reminded him of himself.
“It’s alright you want to fight,” he said. Hamilton looked up, a spark of something in his eye that looked vaguely like hope. “You’ve got a hunger; I was just like you when I was younger.”
Young, foolish, ambitious.
“Head full of fantasies of dying like a martyr…”
“Yes-” You’re too young to die, boy.
“Dying is easy, young man, living is harder.”
“Why are you telling me this?” By now, George would have had a read on any other man, such was his ability to judge character. This one though, this young, scrappy, hungry boy standing before him alluded him.
He’d only just begun to scrape the surface of the enigma that was Alexander Hamilton, yet he found that he was quite content to continue trying.
If George hires this one he’d be trouble, he knew so, but oh… he’d also be brilliant.
“I’m being honest, I’m working with a third of what our Congress has promised.” Washington sits at his desk, still nursing the whisky with a deep look to his eye. “We are a powder-keg about to explode, I need someone like you to lighten the load. So?”
He had not been planning on hiring anyone today but something about the officer drew him in, there was no doubt in Washington’s mind that if Hamilton took this position together they would be great. He took his own quill in hand, and offered it to the young man in front him.
Alexander stared at the offered quill, it beckoned him. He didn’t want to be a secretary, he had made that clear, and yet… This could be his chance. This was George Washington, rejecting an offer like this would make him a fool, and Alexander Hamilton prided himself on being no fool.
His eyes, quick like daggers, flew to meet Washington’s as he gave an ever subtle nod of agreement.
George felt the edges of his mouth turn up as the boy finally left his head and indicated his agreement. The quill was taken from his fingers and in the next second the boy was sat and beginning his business, surprising George with an eagerness he hadn’t expected from Hamilton’s earlier hesitation.
“Son, we are outgunned, outmanned…”
“You need all the help you can get, I have some friends Laurens, Mulligan, Marquis de Lafayette. Okay, what else?” Washington had a hard time controlling his facial expressions as the quill flew across the page and Hamilton, barely in the position for five minutes, took his task in stride and flourished.
“Outnumbered, out-planned…” Washington lamented, intent on going on but apparently needn’t to, for his young aide’s quill still did not stop.
“You need some spies on the inside, some King’s men who might let some things slide,” Hamilton suggested. George could only sit and watch in amazement at this little hurricane in his office. Of course he’d entertained the idea of recruiting spies, but had thought the actual notion of doing so impossible, and yet, when Hamilton said it he suddenly began to entertain the idea.
“I’ll write to Congress and tell them we need supplies, rally the guys, master the element of surprise.” Alexander seemed to be talking to only himself now, so lost in his work, God knows what he was even writing, he’d only been hired for a few minutes.
Gathering the rest of his things he stood, matching the general’s warm gaze with a sincerely loyal one.
“I’ll rise above my station, organize your information, till we rise to the occasion of our new nation,” he promises, youthful hope and gratitude shining back at Washington. He blinks and finds that Hamilton has taken an excited leave, gone off to make miracles happen no doubt.
He wants a command, glory for his name perhaps. Washington could tell that much, he’d been told that much. For now, young Officer Hamilton would be content with working as Washington’s right hand man, but it won’t last.
Yet when Washington thought of sending that boy into battle, so young and full of promise, his stomach twisted unpleasantly, even after just meeting him. He wanted to protect him, if only to utilize his skills, of course.
‘He’s so young,’ George mused. ‘How can he be ready to die, with an entire lifetime ahead of him?’
That night, he would announce Hamilton as his new aide. The boy would move into his quarters the following morn, and would begin his duties immediately afterwards. He would allow a grace period of course, while he transitioned from one routine of life to another.
George Washington was looking forward to this new endeavour, something in his gut told him that his life was about to change for the better with his new aide.
“Here comes the general!” Alexander looked up in surprise at John’s voice, his earlier conversation with General Washington replaying in his mind. Did he want Alexander immediately? “What causes him to make rounds around the camp like a common guard?”
“Mon ami, did you not speak to us that you and Monsieur Washington met earlier?”
“You did?” Burr interrupted Alexander before any words could begin to properly formulate, looking between Lafayette, John, and Alexander as if he had missed something. Which, he had.
“Yes. Briefly, this afternoon,” Alexander replied, unsure if it was proper to announce his promotion before the general had formally acknowledged him. What if he was coming to tell Alexander that he’d changed his mind?
“What was said in this apparent conversation?”
“Come now, Burr. I try not to make it a habit to gossip private conversations.”
“Just publicly rebuke them, apparently.” Hamilton smirked against his cup, taking a slow sip.
At that moment, Washington entered their tent. The men nearly spilled half the wine in their haste to stand for him, and Hamilton felt his breath catch in his throat.
Washington’s presence filled the room, his gaze warm yet commanding, his frame strong and proud. Alexander admired the way he seemed to draw everyone’s attention, how he demanded their respect without speaking. George Washington was born to be a leader.
“Hamilton, come with me.”
“Yes, Your Excellency.” There was no hesitation in the boy’s response but he cast an almost nervous glance to his friends as they departed.
Burr watched warily as Alexander was lead away by their commander-in-chief, the hints of jealousy colouring his cheeks.
“All of you may come, actually,” Washington added as they crossed the threshold of the tent, “I’ve an announcement to make and I’m sure you would make it your greatest interest to be present.”
The men rose, casting confused glances at each other as they followed Washington out, the party soon met by others, roused in a similar fashion, all sharing the same confusion. Eventually they arrived at what was serving as a mess hall for the soldiers, but main function was a pub.
“Officer, if you would do me the service of fetching the ale, and filling a cup for all present.” George requested of a younger looking officer, who went immediately pale at seeing who he was talking to.
“Yes, sir, right away sir.” The officer scampered away to fulfill his task while Washington surveyed the room.
He didn’t like to learn names and faces, ages, backstories, anything that made them people, about his men. Not when he sent so many of them to their deaths. He’d learned over the course of his career that being a general and being a man were two separate things.
So it was not by his consent that he noticed that all of these men seemed so young to be fighting a war, nor that almost half wore wedding bands on their fingers. They chirped with excitement and hope, of a new nation that they could build a family on. George had wanted that too, once.
A cup was placed into his hand and before he had a chance to thank the young man he had disappeared with a bow back into the crowd. Once all present had their drinks he called for their attention, which was most likely unnecessary, when they had all been watching him like an eagle for the past five minutes.
“Gentlemen. Comrades, I called this impromptu gathering with the intention of making an announcement. However, now that we are all here I think it would do no harm in making a toast.”
Hamilton shifted on his feet, as many of the other men did, nervous with the general’s true intent and not keen on waiting through a toast to find out.
“To the bravery and sacrifice of every single one of you here. You have all given up something, a brother, a wife, a family, and in their stead you have chosen to fight for liberty, and the God given rights of every man. To you, we toast, to our fallen comrades, to yourselves, and to freedom!” Washington thrust his cup up, and his men followed suit, yet before he could go on another voice spoke from behind him.
“And to General Washington!” There was no explanation of why Hamilton added his name into their toast, nor did his men need one, for there was a chorus of replies that toasted his name before drinking.
This was odd for George, who never thought that what he did in the war was more important, or honourable for that matter, than the men who lived and died for him.
The general once again held the attention of everyone as the cacophony of sound quieted. There was little to celebrate lately, and all men waited with bated breath to what this announcement may be.
“This gathering serves an announcement and an introduction. It was announced not three weeks ago that I was in search for an aide-de-camp. I am here today to introduce to you the fine young man who shall be serving me in this endeavour.”
Burr’s eyes flashed with understanding, flicking over to Alexander with ill-concealed envy. Hamilton on the other hand stood proudly yet humbly, and ever attentive to the general’s words. After all, that would be his life after this.
Washington looked back to where Hamilton stood and ushered him forth, clapping his hands on the boy’s shoulders with a familiarity that seemed natural despite their short acquaintance.
“My aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, will be serving me for the next foreseeable future. I hope you all congratulate your brother in arms in this promotion, as I’m sure you all are aware that he has earned it with work of the highest calibre.”
While Hamilton had flinched at his initial contact, he smiled sheepishly now while the company toasted to his name. He could see John excitedly cheering him on, along with Gilbert and Hercules. Burr was clapping politely but seemed tense.
Most of the men looked happy or at least amiable to the news but there were a few that seemed… less so.
Alexander had long ago learned to recognized resentment in the eyes of men, his time on Nevis had made sure of it, and so he could see clearly the resentment shining in the eyes of a few of his comrades.
He removed himself from the general’s grasp, politely shaking his hand instead.
“I dedicate myself to your service, Your Excellency.” His voice was unusually soft but held all the decorum that should accompany speaking with the leader of the continental army.
Washington smiled kindly and clapped Alexander on the back, making him once again flinch.
“I’m looking forward to it, Hamilton.”
Chapter 2: Of Nevers and Revelations
Hamilton has settled into a new lifestyle, George acts more like a guardian than a senior commander, and revelations are made to shake whatever foundations they'd already built.
A.N. Again, I am a) Canadian and therefore know next to nothing about American history and b) taking artistic license with this story so there are going to be historical inaccuracies literally everywhere.
Thanks for all the reviews guys! It made me feel so great every time I got to read them. (Motivated me to write quicker too.)
So without further ado...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“So tell us Hamilton, how is it being Washington’s pet?”
Hamilton did his best to ignore the jeers coming from his comrade, having been reprimanded two weeks earlier by Washington for getting to a fist fight with a different man for the same reason.
Of course he had left out the bit that the fight had been over Washington.
He’d been working as Washington’s aide for a little over a month now, and while most men either didn’t care or were happy enough for him, there were some that were obviously harbouring hostilities.
Alexander knew that it would turn out that way, after all, he was perceptive by nature. He just hadn’t thought that he wouldn’t be able to clear up any ‘misconceptions’ with his fists, as he had on the island.
“Are you allowed to sleep at the foot of his bed? Further maybe? Perhaps the inner workings George Washington are more perverted than we think.”
At this Hamilton stopped, a dangerous glint in his eye.
“You want to take that back Ainsley,” he asked in a growl, “because I’ll give you one chance to take it back.”
“I see no reason to apologize for voicing what everyone is thinking. Besides, you won’t do anything, I heard Daddy was cross last time, did little Alexander get in trouble?”
Alexander Hamilton was not one to back down from a fight, but when he was carrying a pile of missives, all urgent in their own ways, and he was already late for a meeting with the general, he could.
“I don’t need this from you. Screw off and leave me be, Ainsley. Don’t you have horses to attend to?”
Hamilton shoved past him, fuming, but not ready to come to blows about it. While Ainsley looked positively enraged Alexander was sure it would pass in a few hours of separation.
Washington’s ire however, was not so easily sated.
So when Hamilton entered, none too early for their scheduled meeting, George greeted him cooly. Yes, the boy did good (amazing) work, and yes, the boy had almost unlimited potential, but Christ Almighty, he was trouble. More than had been anticipated. Don’t delude yourself old man, you enjoy it.
“Is there any particular reason that you have strolled into this office no less than fifteen minutes late, Hamilton?”
“None that are worth voicing, Your Excellency.” Alexander’s expression was repentant, he seemed to wilt under George’s stern glare.
“I don’t particularly care what you do outside these quarters, Hamilton.” Liar, you monitor that boy constantly. “As long as it does not reflect poorly on me. You are given a stunning amount of freedom as my aide, more than most in the same position are shown, all I ask is that you follow my commands.”
“Yes, I understand but-”
“Do not interrupt me, boy.” Washington’s deep rumble filled the room, and Alexander looked down, refusing to meet his gaze. “I hope, for your sake, that wherever you were it wasn’t brawling.”
“No, Your Excellency, I was…” Hamilton trailed off, trying to formulate an excuse that left out his confrontation with Ainsley. “I was occupied with a comrade, my deepest apologies.”
Washington grunted and crossed his arms, but relented. “We’ve wasted enough time as it is, sit down and relay the missives.”
Hamilton wasted no time after that, immediately taking his place by the general and beginning his morning routine. Hamilton knew that the opportunity he’d been given was one in a million, and that he should be immensely grateful to the general; that if the fact that he was a bastard ever got out he’d be finished.
Washington would periodically glance at Alexander throughout the day, making the boy feel uneasy. He’d never liked being scrutinized, worried stirrings began to make it’s way into the boy’s head, replacing his concentration with useless thoughts.
Washington noticed. Alexander was clever, brilliant, and definitely fidgeting. If the child thought he was concealing his discomfort he was horribly wrong.
“Hamilton, is there something the matt-”
Lafayette burst into their quarters in his usual fashion, with absolutely no sense of volume and a strange exuberance only Gilbert could pull off.
“Quel est le problème?” Alexander shot out from his seat, the words falling from his mouth so quickly George wondered if he even knew they’d escaped.
“Les messagers sont rentrés et ils sont blessés graveleux,” Lafayette exclaimed. Hamilton paled.
George hadn’t even known the boy knew French.
Lafayette dashed out and Hamilton moved to follow him, until his arm was grabbed by the general who had, somehow, in the excitement found his way closer to the young men.
“What’s going on Alexander?”
“They have returned injured,” the boy panted. “They’ve news, urgent news.”
Before George could reply the boy was gone, chasing after his friend. George dashed after Hamilton, still reeling from the excitement of the last two minutes.
“Make way, urgent business,” Hamilton was calling ahead, ducking under and through the commotions of the camp.
“Move!” Lafayette was less eloquent.
Hamilton had to skid to a stop outside of the healing quarters, barely refraining from bursting through the doors. Two of the guards stiffened at their hastened arrival but relaxed as they recognized the young officer who they knew to be Washington’s aide-de-camp.
“I’m most anxious of the messengers’ state of being, have you any speculations of the cause of their injuries?” Hamilton asked, trying to catch his breath before entering.
“I’m afraid not, at liberty to say, sir. Though I shall divulge this, the poor men were in poor shape, recognizably so. On another note, I’ve seen far too many men succumb to infected gunshots, tragic it is.” The guard threw a meaningful look which Hamilton reciprocated, clapping him on the shoulder before beckoning towards the door. Lafayette entered first, being too worried to formulate an English gratitude.
“Hamilton!” Washington approached just as Alexander was opening the door. “What the Hell is going on?”
“We’re not entirely sure, Your Excellency. I was just about to inquire on the condition of the messengers.”
“A little foreword would be appreciated Hamilton, before you dash out of my office like a madman.”
Alexander let go of the door and faced the general fully, his chin up in defiance.
“I explained, briefly, before I left, General. I’m sorry if you did not understand my explanation.”
“Was I supposed to understand you and the Marquis’ rapid conversation in French, or the vague, barely multi-worded answer you gave on my inquiry?” George retorted, sarcasm absolutely dripping form his voice.
The guard with whom Hamilton had been speaking tilted his head down as he fought the urge to chuckle.
Hamilton clenched his jaw, saying nothing, he turned from Washington and marched into the infirmary. Washington rolled his eyes at the boy and followed.
The general was instantly sobered by the sight before him. Lafayette was knelt next to one of the messengers, speaking in low whispers and grasping the man’s arm as he struggled with the pains from his wounds. Alexander knelt in a similar position, the paleness of their skin amplified by the glow of the lanterns. The injured all looked so poorly, with blood seeping through white sheets, or with sickness eating them away, either way it was a sorry sight.
At Washington’s glance Hamilton looked up from his silent vigil next to the other messenger, answering the unspoken question.
“We are acquainted with these men, Your Excellency. We shared the same living space before our subsequent promotions, I’d like to think of them as friends.”
Washington took a long breath, nodding at the boy before moving over to where the doctor stood.
The doctor looked grave. He was solemn man, who had the frame of one who had seen too much death and destruction in one lifetime. Washington sympathized for the man; he’d had his fair share of tragedy but as a doctor, well, he must have seen ten times the actual death. His eyes saddened even more as he replied.
“I do not think so, Your Excellency. They are grievously wounded; infection has set in, they’ve lost their share of blood, and are too malnourished to have any fight left in them. It’s a miracle they made it back to base.”
Washington flinched, he’d failed so many in his lifetime, and he was still failing the men under his command.
“Have they said anything since you tended them?”
“Nothing coherent, they were praying mostly. I believe they know that their time is coming to be sent back to the Lord.”
Washington could not muster the strength to reply, merely watching the men. It occurred to him that Alexander was still a teenager, and yet so fairly acquainted with Death, and living in a world where he would forever be surrounded by it. How cruel the universe could be.
“Do you know anything about the men?”
“Not much, only that the messages they returned with could not possibly warrant their attack.”
“What was their message?”
“That one,” the doctor pointed to the bed where Lafayette was stationed, “returned with a letter from Congress. I’ve given it to your aide.” Hamilton apparently could not even grieve his friend without being reminded of the constant responsibility of being Washington’s aide. “The other had a note with him, from Benedict Arnold, requesting your presence for breakfast within the next month.”
“I see. Thank you, we are always indebted to your service.” George held out his hand for the doctor to shake, which he did, frailly, before busying himself with the other patients.
George turned his sympathetic gaze back to the boys, noticing how the man Alexander was with seemed to be struggling harder than Lafayette’s friend. Hamilton leaned closer towards his mouth, his brow furrowed in concentration, before something else flashed over his face, something akin to shock.
The messenger seemed to relax, a peaceful grin spreading over his face as his pains were forgotten. A draft blew through the infirmary, taking with it the soul of Alexander’s companion.
To the naked eye Alexander seemed indifferent to it, but George could see the shock and emotion left behind in his eyes. He gently pulled the boy back to his feet, guiding him by the arm away from the body.
Alexander was vaguely aware of movement happening around him. The doctor’s assistant covering the body with a sheet, Washington leading him away, Lafayette quietly weeping as Lincoln passed as well, was Alexander supposed to be crying right now? He felt he should be doing something other than staring at the burning of the lantern.
Yet everything about this room sent spikes of pain through his memories, both old and new. The smell of death, and sickness, and the chill, the dreariness of it all, it all reminded him of how he watched his mother die, just like now.
“Alexander. Son, look at me.” Washington was trying to coax the boy away from whatever mind state he’d found himself in. I’ve never seen him look so lost.
Hamilton came back to him with a sharp inhale of breath, his reflexive response to turn to where Gilbert was mourning Lincoln. So they’d both gone, it hadn’t set in before.
“I-I should-” Alexander fumbled in his pockets for the letter he’d been given, but was stopped by Washingtons arm squeezing his gently.
“No, Hamilton, you don’t have to be my aide right now. You can stay and grieve your comrades.”
“No, I need to, I need to tell your something of the utmost urgency Your Excellency.” Hamilton reigned himself in, shaking off the growing uneasiness he felt. “Please, just a moment to have a word with the Marquis de Lafayette, and I shall join you in your quarters.”
George felt he should insist that Alexander be dismissed, but knew from the resolved look in his eyes that nothing would be able to persuade him otherwise.
“As you wish, Officer.”
Hamilton nodded his gratitude and made his way to where Lafayette was still knelt, explaining his departure it seemed.
“Je dois partir, j’ai trop de souvenirs ici.” He murmured, to which the Marquis refocused his sad eyes and nodded in understanding.
Washington was watching him as he exited the infirmary, as if he would break at the slightest touch. He wasn’t fragile.
“Shall we back to my office then?”
“Yes, sir. Right away, sir.” Why are you being so formal with me, Alexander?
The boy looked so troubled, and while he had every right to be disturbed by watching Death take a friend, there was something else there. He seemed… paranoid almost.
Hamilton reached the officer before Washington did, immediately going to his desk where a tipped inkwell had ruined whatever missive he had been writing. He couldn’t even remember who it had been for…
The boy flinched violently when Washington once again grasped his arm, and he reflexively jerked it away from the touch.
“Son, what’s going on?”
“I’m not your son.”
Frustrating, thick boy.
“Alexander, what was so urgent that we rushed back here? Was it the letter from Congress?”
“Letter?” He glanced up in confusion before his face lit with understanding. “Oh! The letter, no, it isn’t that. Here, take it, I’ve not even read it through yet.” George accepted the suddenly offered letter, noting how the edges were soaked in blood.
Two men died for this? Or was it something else? What was Hamilton hiding? Washington suddenly remembered how the messenger’s dying words had been to Hamilton, how Alexander’s face had morphed at the message.
“Alexander,” the boy had gotten lost in his thoughts again. “I need you to tell me what has you so disturbed.”
The boy took a shaky breath, his eyes pointed down as if he could not meet the general’s gaze. He couldn’t think of what to say, the message was there, in his head, screaming and as big as ever, but he couldn’t get the words past his tongue.
“Well, Your Excellency, you see…” George had never seen Hamilton struggle for words before. Something in the back of the mind darkly hoped it was still the shock of his friend and not whatever burden he carried. “Roberts said something to me, before he died. I don’t know if he was even coherent, but he fought to pass those as his dying words.”
“Yes, I believe I saw.” As gently as he could, Washington guided the boy to a seated position, while he took a kneeling position next to him. “What did he say, Alexander?”
His aide looked up, his eyes wide and frantic as if whatever revelation he carried impacted him once more.
“There is no other way to say this, Your Excellency.” George braced himself. “There is a spy in our midst; a traitor.”
A.N. Dun, dun, DUN Is it cliche? I feel like it may be cliche. Oh well.
Tell me what you'd like to see happen in some upcoming chapters, I always love hearing from my readers. Thanks again for reading, always appreciate it. :)
Hamilton is quite desperate to do something, Washington is just as shaken as his younger officer, and his friends are there to be what he needs.
Wooo, here we are, new chapter. It's a little bit late, and a little bit short, whoops. I promise, the next chapter will be less filler. You know what makes me write even faster? *waggles eyebrows* Reviews! So don't forget to me leave me one in the comments section below. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Are you sure?”
The man launched himself from the chair, beginning a pace.
“No! Of course I’m not sure, how could I be? There’s no certainty, no tangible proof… Even the man who said so is passed!”
“Son, calm down…” Washington slowly stood, watching as Alexander paced. At his words, the young aide reared towards him.
“I’m not your son!”
There was a pause as the two men stared at each other, one panting, the other completely impassive.
“Alright. But you need to calm yourself Lieutenant,” Washington finally placated. “An unfortunate aspect of war is that there are traitors, but no great damage usually comes from it.”
“No! You don’t understand, Your Excellency. This is not one mere traitor, this a spy, close enough to turn the war. This is a man who has others under his command, secretly. It certainly isn’t a mere foot-solider!”
Washington seemed troubled for a moment, letting his worry wash over him like a wave. Why now? Of all times, now, when they were low on munitions and supplies, was not the time to have some sort of traitorous plot unfold.
“What exactly did he say, Hamilton?”
“While delivering their missives they uncovered a treachery of the highest magnitude, a system.”
“Anything else?” Washington urged his aide, taking hold of his arms to cease his incessant pacing.
“No. That was his last breath Your Excellency.” Alexander’s eyes seemed to bore into his commanding officer’s, the intensity behind them crazed in both grief and panic. “Why would they be killed, murdered, as messengers?”
Washington looked away, something lost in his eye.
“You saw the missives! Were these to die for?” Hamilton lurched away from Washington’s hold, angrily swiping at the forgotten letter at his desk. “Or is the British army killing any foot solider of the Honourable George Washington that they see?”
At Washington’s expression Alexander quickly subdued, sitting back into his chair. The two sat in silence for a whiles before Hamilton’s voice, much softer, broke the stillness.
“I’m sorry. I was out of line, Your Excellency. Without you we would all be slaughtered.”
“…Aren’t you all now?” If it had not been so quiet inside the quarters Alexander would never have heard Washington’s words.
The vulnerability Washington displayed took Hamilton off-guard, no one would’ve expected the great George Washington to ever look self-conscious. Yet, he did. He looked lost. And the grief on his face was enough to take Alexander’s breath away.
“Aren’t you all being slaughtered now? Are you not all dying here? Be it from the violence, or the disease, or the starvation,” George was aware that his voice was steadily raising in volume, and that Hamilton had begun to lean away from it. “I’ve killed more men than any British attack has. This camp may as well be Hell, yet they treat me like I’m heaven sent. I’ve had food every night, how many men were starved to make that happen?”
“Your Excellency without you-”
“I don’t care about the war anymore, I care about my men getting back to their families.”
“General, please! You mustn’t say that, you’re all we have that’s keeping us from desolation. I was wrong in what I said. We’re fighting for a free country, for justice, for our very lives. If we do not fight we may as well be dead.”
Alexander had uncharacteristically latched onto George’s arm, his grip tight.
“We need to stay strong. You needn’t worry about the traitor, I will deal with it,” Washington began to protest but Hamilton cut over him, “and I’ll update you periodically.”
It occurred to Washington, almost comically, that he and his officer had switched places, he being comforted and Hamilton doing the comforting. The massive task of a traitorous system had been too much for the young officer a mere fifteen minutes ago, yet now he offers to take the brunt of it alone.
How many times have you taken a task to alleviate me of stress, while nearly crumbling yourself?
“No. We can take this together, a system of spies means one of my higher officers has betrayed me, and I’m afraid my ego cannot let that go.” It was sorry attempt of humour, but it was all he could do.
Hamilton’s lips quirked in what may have been a smile, pleasing George to no end.
“It will have to wait, Your Excellency, I’m to Boston in the morning.”
In Hamilton’s true fashion he did not notice the sudden change in both Washington’s expression and demeanour as he was reminded of Hamilton’s latest mission.
Hamilton was to ride out to Boston and communicate with the Captain there, delivering a letter written in Washington’s own hand on how they could try new advancement strategies. It was extremely important, crucial even, to the survival of everyone stationed there.
But all Washington could see was Alexander, brought back to him beaten and bloodied. Attacked. Alexander, gasping in pain. Alexander, dying.
Hamilton startled at the sudden break in the silence, his neat handwriting marred with a jerky slip.
“What is it, Your Excellency?”
“You’re not to go to Boston.”
“Excuse me?” Alexander’s eyes widened in alarm.
“I’ve changed my mind, allow Laurens to go in your stead. You trust him don’t you?”
“I’ve ridden with messages from you before, General.”
“Not of this distance, you haven’t.”
“And I will never, if you do not let me go for a first time. It’s not that far a ride, that is not exactly cross-country.”
“You will not be going Alexander. That is final.” Alexander stood angrily, raising to meet George’s eyes with a glare.
“You are making a mistake.”
“Do not take that tone with me, boy. I am your commanding officer.” Alexander scoffed in annoyance, beginning to gather his things. “We’ve many more things to worry about than that message, send Laurens for it.”
“Yes, Your Excellency,” Alexander finally ground out.
“Did I dismiss you, Lieutenant?”
“Consider it my leave, General.”
“We are not done here.”
“I propose that we are.”
That, it seemed, was the final straw for Washington.
“Sit. down. Or Lord help me-“
“You just instructed me to attend my task to Laurens!”
“Hamilton,” George pinched the bride of his nose in frustration, “I’ve had a considerably bad day. Do not push me now.”
Hamilton, to his credit, did sit down, but he was far from over.
“I can do this, Your Excellency. My ride times are that of half my comrades, I’d be back before the end of next week.”
“Alexander, there are more pressing matters at hand. Laurens is your closest comrade is he not? In skill and relationship, I’m sure; I’d trust no other man with a message of this magnitude.”
“Why not have Laurens take my position for the week while I take the missive, I know the complexities it took to craft it, Laurens does not.”
I am trying to keep you safe, you stupid boy! Washington internally raged, knowing from his limited experience that once Hamilton had latched onto something it was easier to let him have it than fight for your stance.
“Fine, officer. But if you ever take this attitude with me again there will be severe repercussions.” Liar.
Alexander’s face split into a smile and it almost made the risk worth it.
“I’ll do anything and everything you need me to, and more, when I return Your Excellency. And I’ll be back in less than a fortnight, you’ll see.”
Alexander began hurriedly gathering his things and cleaning his station, talking a hundred miles an hour. At one point he stopped, looking up at George as if remembering that he had not yet been dismissed, but quickly resumed at his stout nod.
George for his part, why trying not to express his amusement, and annoyance, of course.
“Ah! C’est le petit lion!”
“Alexander! How good of you to finally join us.” Alexander entered his tent to the familiar sounds of his friends jests.
“I apologize gentlemen, I was-”
“Caught up at work,” the cohort chimed, laughing at the pink tinge Alexander’s cheeks took.
“Yes we know, Lieutenant Hamilton. Your work is very important indeed, but surely His Excellency would allow you a nights off considering.” Burr added, solemnly nursing his drink.
“His Excellency was more than inclined to allow me a nights off and more, but there was business that could not wait,” Hamilton retorted. “It was on my prerogative that we were both kept into this hour.”
Lafayette and Alexander shared a meaningful glance, in which conveyed to Hamilton that he was not the only one to receive a message. The gaze was broken as Laurens pushed a tankard into his hand, clapping a hand over his shoulder.
“Tonight we drink to our fallen comrades, and friends. May they find peace in the Lord’s kingdom.”
“May they find peace.” Alexander echoed, and they drank.
“Anything that pertains to any of us why you were late this eve, Hamilton?”
“Actually, it does,” Alexander straightened himself and lowered his voice to do a surprisingly accurate imitation of Washington, “Officer Laurens, you shall take over Officer Hamilton’s position as aide-de-camp until such a time in which Lieutenant Hamilton returns from his allotted mission. I must of course, stress to you, that any correspondences are strictly confidential and as such you will not have the same clearance as Lieutenant Hamilton.”
By the end of his speech his friends were laughing, all except Burr, at his imitation.
“Is it true though? Is Johny over here going to be aide-de-camp in your absence?” Hercules asked, gulping back the last of his drink.
“Oh yes, that is true. I’d have no one besides Laurens in my place.”
At this Burr felt his ears burn in indignation, Alexander was aware that he’d had ambitions of becoming the General’s aide, and still hoped that he could be hired to some other ranking official, an opportunity to work as the General’s stand in would have been extremely beneficial.
“Where will you be heading to, mon ami?”
“That’s classified stuff, Lafayette.” Hamilton smirked, dodging the loosely thrown swat Gilbert threw at him.
“Well if you’re talking in terms of class, I do outclass all you peasants as Marquis de Lafayette.”
Lafayette could not even finish his sentence before dissolving into a fit of laughter with the rest of the cohort, all laughing over each other’s jesting calls.
“But our lil Alex, will be cautious,” Mulligan caught Alexander in a headlock, ruffling his hair, “won’t he?”
“I’ll not be careful with my dagger if you do not unhand me,” Alexander retorted, righting himself indignantly while the others laughed at his expense. Taking another swig of ale he did finally reply. “I’ll be as cautious as caution dictates. Nothing is going to happen to me.”
To everyone who's like "um excuse me what is this? this is not a chapter it's filler." YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. And filler is a killer to write, (heh, rhyme) but it has to be done because that's how stuff works I guess???
But! Like I said, the next chapter and hopefully coming chapters won't be so boring.
To everyone who reviewed before, I love you!!! And don't worry, I heard each and every one of your suggestions and I have taken them into great consideration. Stay tuned. ;)
Chapter 4: Symbols and Information
OH MY GOD! You guys are the best! 10 reviews in five days? Hell yeah I'm going to work my little ass off and get another chapter up for you guys ASAP. This actually would have come a lot sooner but I was away at Drama Provincials and it wasn't quite finished at the time, but I'm back now, and posting because you 100% deserve this!
Thank you so much!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Washington felt a warm spray hit his face and for a moment the world was painstakingly still.
Then the crushing weight of a body slammed into his chest.
Two weeks prior
“Lieutenant Hamilton! Sir!” A messenger wove his way around the congested camp, his balance slipping on the sodden ground. The man in question looked up from the table he was stationed at, an overhang having been set up to protect him from the complete downpour.
“Yes, Officer,” Hamilton acknowledged, taking in the boy. Gods, he’s younger than I. Either recruitment is especially desperate or especially daft. “What is it that you bring this time?”
“Another correspondence from General Washington sir,” the boy answered easily, handing Hamilton said envelope. The fourth of the past week it seemed. “If I may be so bold sir…”
“You may certainly try.” Hamilton’s voice was almost amused as he sat once more, casting a glance at the boy that was so reminiscent of Washington that any close to the general would have looked twice.
“Well, this is the fourth of the week, I know because I’m in charge of delivering them, and there’s been four specifically for you this week, which must be the entirety of the general’s personal message staff, and you’ve received almost twenty missives from His Excellency in your stay here,” the boy rambled on, and Alexander briefly wondered if this is how Washington felt with him. “What I mean to say sir, is perhaps you should return.”
Ah, so this is what the boy had been trying to say. The thought was tempting indeed, for his small delay in Boston had turned into a month’s absence from his home.
“Tis a tempting notion, Officer. I’d very much like to return to base soon.”
“Then why don’t you?”
Because of a dammed spy, and because you’re all being slaughtered here and I can actually do something in this devastation, this time. And… I may or may not enjoy being a few hours’ ride away from a certain Schuyler sister…
“There’s other business to attend to here, of course. Plus, the foods better.” Hamilton winked at the messenger, who recognized the dismissal as what it was, but who’s lips quirked in a semblance of a smile.
Because the thought of food, let alone good food was laughable around here. They’d been completely desolated by the British forces, and their prospects did not look good. Every second day it seemed like more men were brought back bloodied and dying or already dead; no one survived a wound due to lack of supplies. As it was half the camp was starving, and Hamilton could not find it in him to leave before Congress sent this camp the supplies they’d been promised.
No one complained about the extra help, in fact it seemed the captains here were grateful for his presence, his pure stubbornness sometimes helped lift spirits. Hamilton also offered valuable advice, having studied Washington’s technique of war strategy and being particularly intelligent himself, proved more than worth it to keep around.
And he needed to crack whatever code this was, because he was sure it had to do with the system of traitors that had infected their army.
What are these symbols here?” Alexander stopped in the middle of the devastated city, pointing towards some etchings in the buildings. “I’ve seen them around the structures before.”
“We aren’t sure sir, Probably the local children when there were children left. It means nothing to any of us, nor do they resemble any sort of religious markings.”
Alexander examined the symbol once more, more critically.
“How curious indeed.”
“Lieutenant please, I must urge you to come inside and quickly. Those are storm clouds in the making.”
“I’ll be right with you,” Alexander began to quickly take down the etching on a spare piece of parchment, moving as quickly as he could and still feeling rushed.
“Lieutenant Hamilton, I must insist!”
The last marking was taken and he followed his guide, casting one last look at the symbol he knew had to have some significance. He could feel it.
Over the course of his stay he’d found more symbols resembling the first one he took down, and he always made sure to carefully catalogue every one. Sometimes they’d be found in groups, others in single markings. They clearly meant something, and it was definitely not the work of children. Despite his best efforts, he could not find a way to decode the symbols in the camp, search as he may for someone who may be using them.
And the general, good Lord the general, was growing more and more impatient everyday. What started as simple missives soon turned into demands for Hamilton's return.
Hamilton shuddered to think of the consequences of denying His Excellency outright not once, not twice, but five times.
Washington was anxious for his aide to return, not that Laurens was a bad aide, he just wasn't Hamilton. As foolish it was, when Hamilton first sent word that he was unable to return after delivering the initial message, due to the storms, and then later refusing to return, George had felt fear run its course through his veins. In short terms, he missed the boy.
He'd overheard from Laurens and the Marquis' conversations that personally, Hamilton was doing as fine as he was professionally. However, the conditions in the Boston camp were abhorrent, little food, little medical, and as he understood his recent reports, a complete blood bath.
He may or may not have also heard that that Schuyler girl Alexander met at Phillip's ball was staying in closer proximity in Boston than home base. He hadn't realized their correspondence had extended as far as it had, he hadn't know Alexander had become besotted.
Alexander opened the latest missive, longing for the familiarity of his home. Because, as foolish as it was, when he first sent word that he was unable to return, and then later because he couldn't leave yet, he'd felt longing course through his veins. In short terms, he was homesick.
He missed John and Gilbert and Hercules, maybe even Burr. He missed his job, despite his indignation at the denial of a command, and he missed Washington. Foolish sentiment.
I am no longer requesting. As your commanding officer,
you will obey my request. I'm to visit Benedict
Arnold in a weeks' time, you are a three days ride away from his
residence. You will join me there.
Maybe leaving wouldn't be so bad, Congress had agreed to send some supplies, not as much as they'd hoped but it helped... This code could be worked upon on his own desk instead of here...
Seeing Eliza had been wonderful, and he was quite certain he could spend the rest of his life with her at his side. He eyed her latest letter,
“You've received my father's blessing," especially stood out. Dear god Alexander hoped that what he felt for her was love. No. He knew he loved her, just because he had no experience with family, or children, or love, doesn't mean he is ruined for it.
Alexander Hamilton loved Elizabeth Schuyler. He could do this.
He penned his response back to her, sending it away with a messenger and beginning to pack his things, which had never truly been unpacked. He would surprise Eliza tonight, and confess his love unlike anything he'd said in his letters. He had seen her last week when he had asked for their blessing, but she wasn't expecting to see him for a whiles yet.
If he rode hard he could see Eliza before sundown, and then double back. He had to do something first though, something important.
Then he would ride as the general had requested.
“Alexander!” It was Eliza who opened the door for him, just as he had hoped it would be. “What are you doing here? I didn’t think you’d be back for weeks yet, are you still stationed in Boston? Are you leaving?”
Perhaps one of the things he loved most about his love is that she could talk as fast as he, and she never bored you. Yet for the moment he did not need words, just what was tucked into his uniform pocket.
The Schuyler household sounded just as homely as it had when he visited here before, with Eliza’s sisters laughing in the other room, and the bustle of the household staff as they went about their business. Perhaps it was slightly rude to show up uninvited, but this was something to be done in person.
“Betsy who is it?” Angelica’s voice lilted from the sitting room, and Alexander grinned at the sound of it. They had also kept a correspondence, but he loved her in a different way than Eliza. He knew that it was Eliza that he would marry, and Angelica who would be kept as a most cherished friend.
“Hi Eliza,” Alex started sheepishly, “I won’t impose on your family, I only need to speak to you.”
By this point, both Angelica and Peggy had poked their head out of the drawing room, their mouths falling open in amused shock. Eliza, as if she could sense their presences, glanced back in utter perplexmxent before turning back to Alexander.
“No, no of course not. You are not imposing, please, come inside. You’re absolutely soaked,” she continued to fuss over him like she was not absolutely shellshocked at his sudden appearance. “Were you here to speak to my father?”
Alexander chuckled nervously, a faint blush creeping up on his cheeks as he revealed his tucked arm, presenting her with a bundle of flowers. “No, I’m here for you Eliza.”
“Oh.” The both of them were blushing now.
“Alexander!” Angelica and Peggy it seemed had decided it was time to make their true appearance. He embraced the both of them, savouring the feeling of having a family, before straightening up in front of the imposing figure of Phillip Schuyler.
“Sir,” he gave a small bow, “I hope I have not disrespected you too dearly by coming unannounced.”
They stared at each other for a moment, and then as if sensing Alexander’s intentions, a smile split his face and he clapped Alexander on the back.
“Nonsense! You are always welcomed here son.” Alexander restrained his flinch, smiling gratefully at him.
“With your permission sir, I’d like a moment alone with Eliza…”
Eliza’s chestnut eyes seemed to grow even wider, and she nodded furiously, ushering Alexander towards the drawing room before her father could reply.
“Did you ride all the way here only to speak with me?” Alexander loved her voice, he could listen to it for hours on end, so powerful and soft.
“I’d ride a life’s time to exchange but a word with you, love.”
She smiled then, that pretty smile that lit up her eyes in the candlelight.
“I’d wait a lifetime to exchange a word with you.”
And then Alexander knew. He had to do it now, he could feel it in his bones. Yet as he tried to clasp his hands over the metal he found he couldn’t get a good grip on it. He was fumbling about his pockets and making a complete fool of himself and oh god, this wasn’t going as well as he’d hoped and then finally, he grasped the ring.
“Instead of waiting a lifetime my love, would you spend one with me?” As he said it he dropped into my a kneel, withdrawing the ring from his pocket.
When Eliza realized what was happening all breath was stolen away, all speech became meaningless, and there was nothing else in the world except her and her Alexander.
He must have mistaken her silence for hesitance for he began to ramble in the way he does when he feels out of control.
“I know I have not a dollar to my name, nor any standing in the army. All I have to offer is what I came here with, my knowledge, my honour, and a few college credits. But we could figure things out, I promise I will do my best to provide for you. You, and your family, they bring a different side of me to light, I feel I’ve grown to love them as I could a family. I’ve lived without one so long, I wasn’t sure if I knew how to anymore, but I am sure of this and I am as sure of the memory of my mother. As long as I’m alive Eliza, I swear to god you’ll never feel-”
Before he had finished the sentence Alexander felt Eliza’s body crash into his, enveloping him in her warm embrace.
“My dear Alexander, nothing has given me more joy than to say ‘I do’ to you.”
A relief unlike any other he’d ever experienced washed over Hamilton then, because until then there had always been a voice nagging him that he was much to broken, much too poor, for someone amazing like Eliza to love.
Yet when he slipped the ring on her finger he didn’t feel so broken anymore.
“Lieutenant Hamilton, how good it is to see you, do you travel with General Washington?” Alexander was greeted by an overeager aide of Arnold’s, and he instantly found himself annoyed with him; perhaps it had to do with the long days’ ride he’d just completed.
“No, my dear sir. I travel alone, to be reunited with the general once he makes his appearance in two days time, I imagine.”
“I see, come, come inside. The air is chilled and the ground wet, hardly an environment to make conversation in,” the aide said, ushering Hamilton into the grounds. “Nicolson will take your horse.”
“Much appreciated, I’m afraid I do not have the pleasure of knowing your name.”
“Kingsley, aide of General Arnold.”
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Hamilton lied easily. In truth he hoped he was shown to a place he could sleep and be warm for the first time in five weeks.
“Pleasure is all mine, I’m sure. Come, you must be tired. I will show you your quarters for the next two weeks.”
Two weeks? That’s how long this blasted visit is to last? Of course, this was not his response.
“Thank you, the ride was long.”
“I’m sure it must have been.” How was it that they occupied the same position, Hamilton really having the superior job, and yet Kingsley sounded like he thought he was so much better than Alexander?
Eventually they stopped at a door in one of the many twisting halls of this mansion, which Alexander inferred was to be his quarters. Kingsley presented it to him as if he were some kind of servant, despite the overall luxury of the room itself. It was a pleasantly cozy room, better than anything Alexander had at either camp, with cotton sheets embroidered with burgundy thread, and a cedar desk equipped with everything he would need to work. No windows though, and a bell was hanging near the bed. A wardrobe stood just adjacent to the bed, and a small book shelf on the opposite wall.
"Thank you, it's lovely."
"My employer wishes only for the comfort of yourself and General Washington. His quarters are located just around the corner, a bell will ring if he wishes for your presence while inside his room." Kingsley smiled tightly at Hamilton, no doubt hoping he would flush at the implication of some sort of servants' bell.
"How considerate of your employer. Please, give him my regards." Hamilton returned the gesture, offering his hand to shake.
"I will." Kingsley took the hand, they shook. The door shut behind Kingsley, and the only sound in the room was silence.
Alexander already hated it here.
"Good morrow, Officer Hamilton." To Hamilton's complete surprise, Benedict Arnold himself stood in the doorway of Alexander's room, which he had left as minimally as possible.
"Good morrow, General Arnold," Alexander replied.
"I've seen you little about the grounds, I was worried you did not enjoy it here."
"Of course not sir, I've merely been working in anticipation of the general's arrival," Hamilton replied.
"I see, you are quite close with the general, are you not?"
The question took Alexander aback, and for the few seconds it took him to regain his bearings he stared at Arnold in silence.
Arnold had moved into his room, standing almost behind Alexander and despite his dislike for this place Hamilton was becoming both uncomfortable and angry at the intrusion of his space.
"I would not say that my relationship with the general extends past one of of my post, sir."
"Yes but as far as that goes, you spend many hours with him, don't you?"
"My post requires me to-" Hamilton clenched his jaw as he answered, not liking Arnold's general tone.
"Yes, thank you Officer Hamilton. You've been ever enlightening."
"May I ask what you needed enlightenment on," Hamilton had turned back to his works, picking up the quill shakily, feeling slightly threatened.
"That would give away the surprise," he felt Arnold's hand lay across his shoulder and immediately tensed. "Come with me now boy, Washington arrives soon."
He stood, wondering when Arnold would release him, only to be jerked back as Arnold looked at his desk.
"What's this then?" He flicked at the pages and pages of keys and symbols that Hamilton had dedicated his time to.
"Work for the General, sir." Hamilton went to collect and cover the pages, yet the general snatched his arm, holding it in a bruising grip. “Sir?”
“Where did you first see these markings, boy?”
“I didn’t,” he lied. “I saw them for the first time when Washington sent them to me.” Alexander jerked his arm but the general held fast.
“Why does he believe them significant?”
More struggling, just as fruitless, “I’m not at liberty to say sir, kindly release my arm.” Had he not been holding his quill so tightly Hamilton speculated he may have drawn his gun in anxiety.
"A senior officer just asked you a question."
"And I told you, that I don't-"
"General Washington has arrived sir." Kingsley's voice cut across any excuse Alexander had formulated, not casting a second glance to the position the two were in.
"Thank you," Arnold spoke before Hamilton could, "we'll join you momentarily."
"Yes, sir." Kingsley left and Alexander felt trapped, not like Kingsley would be all too inclined to help him, but still.
"Sir, I must insist that you release me." Hamilton had a dangerously suspicious look in his eyes.
As if just realizing his grasp on the boy Arnold instantly let go, patting his back and repeating apologies and excuses, yet it seemed inexplicably... fake.
"You are a good man Hamilton, I can see why the general finds such value in you. Shame he keeps you behind a desk."
Normally, Hamilton would agree wholeheartedly and make this known. Today however, he would not because he was on edge around Arnold and didn't want him to believe he wasn't loyal.
"The general placed me in a most prestigious position, I'm quite grateful for the opportunity," he started, their voices both back to conversational. "If he should chose to provide me a battalion I would be most grateful, in the name of his service, of course."
Hamilton didn't quite believe Arnold when he spoke of loyalty.
"General Washington, it is an honour and a pleasure to see you."
"Benedict, it has been too long. Please, we do not need to bother with formalities, you and I have been well acquainted for long enough now."
"Indeed, come inside, the weathers been terrible as of late," Arnold ushered Washington inside.
"It has. Did my aide-de-camp make it here from Boston?"
"Yes, two days ago. Though I'm afraid I've seen little of him in those two days, he hardly leaves his desk."
Washington chuckled fondly, "yes, that's Alexander for you. His mission in Boston was meant to be a week and a half at most, yet it was somehow expanded to an additional month."
Look at how his eye shines with fondness, and is that longing? The general is quite fond of the boy indeed, how interesting.
"Shall we take lunch in my study and then discuss some important matters?" It was the expected offer, as this is what Washington had come for, discussing the newest lines of placement, tactics, and bases with Arnold. And yet,
"Of course, would you delay for an hours' time however, I'm... tired." The trip wasn't a long one.
"Of course, allow my aide to take you to your rooms."
Washington nodded, striding away with Kingsley, filling the room with his pure power and authority. It was fitting that he was the leader of the continental army, because he could stand in a room with the king himself and would have the higher authority.
"The bell on the left is for the house staff, the right is connected to your aide-de-camp." Kingsley explained, and for a second Washington let his disgust show on his face. He couldn't imagine calling Alexander to him like some dog or waiter. That would not be how he was reunited with the boy.
"Speaking of, where are Lieutenant Hamilton's rooms?"
"His room is around the corner, I will summon him if you wish," Kingsley reached for the bell's cord but Washington was already catching it.
"I am not quite ready, I'll summon him when I see fit," he ground out, angered for some reason he did not wish to examine right now.
"Of course, my apologies Your Excellency." Arnold's aide bowed and left, casting a glance down the hall.
Washington could tell they were certainly more formal here than his base, based on how they constructed the social structure between servant and employer alone. Hamilton was not there to meet him, which meant he was either cross with him, or was instructed not to. It could be the latter, in a warped way, he could be cross for being forced to return to Washington's direct staff. Did he not enjoy it as much as Washington had thought he did?
Perhaps he didn't like that he would be here for two more weeks, seeing how they treat staff. Or maybe he still wanted a command, and that's why he enjoyed Boston. Did he enjoy Boston? He must have, he stayed there three additional weeks.
Washington had not even noticed himself leaving his rooms, let alone rapping his knuckles against the door of Hamilton's.
"Sir-" Alexander opened the door, taking a slight step back as he realized it was Washington that stood in front of him. "Oh, hello Your Excellency." Alexander pivoted awkwardly, allowing George access to his rooms, which were exponentially smaller than Washington's.
"Alexander," he replied.
This was supposed to be the part where he screamed at Hamilton, and put him in his place for his disobedience. He was expecting it, Alexander was expecting it, and yet it didn't come.
At the same time both men took an involuntary step towards the other, both with words never quite making it past their tongues. They both backed down. Finally, the silence was broken.
“You disobeyed me.”
“That might make it worse son.”
“I’m not your son, and only a fool would not see that what I did was insubordination.”
“Then what possessed you to do it? I could have you fired, perhaps worse, for it.”
Alexander looked at Washington then, reminding the general that he truly was just a child in a war. Underneath his bravado he was insecure and scared, just trying to prove himself that even he didn’t know.
“Would you have me fired, Your Excellency?”
“I have no plans of it as of yet, Hamilton, but do not think I take insubordination lightly.”
“I don’t,” his head bowed in submission, he could be so brash and so shy in the same hour, “I was truly repentant every time I denied you, Your Excellency. But, I couldn’t leave, there were so many reasons why I couldn’t leave… None of which I will waste your time with, just know that I am sorry.”
Washington believed him.
“Forget it now. The storm I could forgive, I would have ordered you to stay there and brave the it even if you did not decided to do so yourself, but the storm had passed for two weeks and you still refused to come ho- back.”
The men stared at each other in silence before,
“They were all starving.”
George flinched, he knew, he knew and he had tried to get them more food but he had to find food for the entire army, and Boston had seemed like a lost cause.
“I know. I tried.”
“So did I.”
Silence. He was just a boy, a boy who had turned twenty six weeks and three days ago, he was so young and he still thought he could help everyone in the world. He tried saving them all. No, he knew that everyone couldn’t be saved, and that was sadder.
Washington clasped Alexander’s shoulder, and with the ghost of General Arnold’s touch still fresh in his mind, Alexander allowed himself to relax into it instead of pulling away.
“You did well Alex,” George couldn’t help the fondness that flooded his veins. “You mentioned, you had found something important in Boston, about the horses?”
‘The horses’ was the codename lovingly given to the spy system Alexander had come up with.
“Yes, a code. It’s quite complex and does not use the alphabet the way we know it, I’ve been unable to break it sir, I did not want to risk it being intercepted had I sent it to you through missive.”
“Very well, come along. You did not greet me when I arrived, I had worried that I angered you somehow,” Washington joked as Hamilton picked up a blank piece of parchment and quill to take notes during the meeting.
Hamilton chuckled nervously, huffing a piece of hair away from his eyes due to his full hands, a mannerism so familiar to Washington that it made his heart swell.
“Despite my short fuse, I was not angry. I’m sorry I missed your arrival, I had become preoccupied.”
“It is a very Hamilton excuse,” he quipped, missing the way Alexander got a far off look. His ‘preoccupation’ was him trying to gather himself after Arnold’s little visit.
Hamilton merely chuckled, at first following slightly behind Washington, only to have the general slow till they were side by side.
“I’ve not seen you for four and a half weeks Hamilton, I’d enjoy it if you were not only a voice behind my shoulder.”
Alexander only smiled and nodded.
“General, I see you’ve brought your aide.” Arnold regarded Alexander as he would every staff member, with the disdain only an aristocratic snob could pull off. “I’d of brought my own had I known we’d be flaunting the excellent work of our staff.”
George clenched his jaw but managed to keep his voice level, “Alexander is not something to flaunt, he offers valuable advice and takes excellent notes during meetings, I trust no other staff member as much as I trust Lieutenant Hamilton.”
“Of course,” he offered George a chair but neglected to give one to Alexander. “As long as he does not interrupt us.”
Hamilton could see that George wanted to fight Benedict on this, so he intervened. They couldn’t afford to have this two weeks be a spitting match between the two men.
“I won’t, General Arnold. You won’t even notice me.” Washington turned his head at the sound of his voice, in which they locked eyes and Hamilton shook his head discreetly, conveying his message perfectly clearly.
Arnold nodded and took his seat, followed stiffly by Washington.
From his standing position Alexander was able to see both general’s frames, and he noticed that Arnold was carrying not only a gun but a dagger as well. It was not normal practice to come to these meetings armed, General Washington never carried his weapons to them.
It put him on edge.
A glass shattered, along with it Arnold’s leather folder of documents.
“Blast!” The general chuckled, smiling at Washington who had stood in surprise.
“Allow me,” Hamilton offered kneeling to retrieve the scattered documents. Arnold started as soon as Hamilton first touched the documents, causing Hamilton to cast a curious glance at them.
There. At the bottom of the corner, where the insignia goes, Hamilton knew that symbol. He’d just spent a month trying to decode it.
He and Arnold’s eyes locked.
This chapter is EXTRA long, and I know; I'm cruel. Please, tell me what you think in the comments section, because the best feeling in the world was honestly reading all of your beautiful comments.
Also, predict, suggest, or examine what's going to happen to Alex, you know I listen. ;)
Chapter 5: Toys
Hamilton knows who the spy is, and Arnold knows he knows this. But he doesn't go for the execution, oh no, not yet. No. Arnold wants to play.
I DID IT. I got you guys your chapter in a week! That is, by the way, entirely because you guys 100% deserve it with all these amazing reviews! Like holy gosh I just knew that I had to have a good chapter this week after all the support you gave me the last couple chapters. Keep it up and we might even develop a regular writing rhythm!
Also, if you haven't seen it yet I would love you all the more if you checked out a little interim one shot I published a few days ago, called "To Deserve." ;)
Trigger warnings: non-graphic torture
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Watching Arnold was like a snake watching its prey, and Hamilton was feeling particularly like he was the mouse in this situation.
Alexander knew the fury of men, he remembered it well from his life on the island. He knew that a man who felt trapped, backed into a corner, would lash out at the closest thing he could find that wouldn’t fight back. That was why he learned early on that you must always fight back.
But he couldn’t, could he? Not with the general left unawares and unprotected between them. This wasn’t a quick beating from a supervisor, Benedict Arnold was operating an extremely complex and dangerous spy ring which had already murdered two of his friends. It wasn’t only Arnold that was trapped.
Washington was still staring at him in confusion, seeing as they had suddenly fallen into a deadly silence. The leader had sat down, unable to see what Alexander held in his hands but seeing his and Arnold’s trance.
Alexander hissed in pain and the moment was broken.
Hamilton inwardly cursed as he saw the blood begin to blossom along his palm along the gash he’d managed to tear into with broken glass. For a moment his breathing hitched and his thoughts started to stampede at a hundred miles an hour. He didn’t know what to do, he couldn’t do anything and now his shooting hand was torn, and he didn’t know what to do. His eyes flashed upwards and found the general’s, and for that second nothing else mattered but Hamilton finding solace there, reminding him that right now he had to remain calm lest Washington be murdered.
General Arnold grasped his arm, and hauled him up from the floor roughly, keeping his grip on Alexander even when the boy was righted. He snatched at Alexander’s wrist, wrenching it up so that he could supposedly see the wound. Hamilton gasped in pain and dropped the documents, now smeared with his blood.
Washington shot up out of his seat, his hand almost instinctively going to where his gun should have been.
“Oh dear, you’ve cut yourself,” General Arnold cooed, sending shivers down Hamilton’s neck, “come with me, and I’ll have someone look after you.”
Washington glanced between the two men, unsure of what was going on but knowing that he didn’t like it and that he wanted Arnold to let go of his boy.
Arnold began pulling Hamilton away towards the servants’ doors, against which Alexander sent a pleading look to Washington as he stumbled against the generals vicelike grip.
“Benedict!” Washington’s rumble filled the entire room and made Arnold grind to a halt. “There is no need to tend to Lieutenant Hamilton yourself, or have your servants postpone their duties to do so, I’ll tend to him.” This was clearly not a suggestion that was meant to be rejected, but Benedict Arnold did just that, his grip tightening minutely on Hamilton’s arm.
“General Washington, I assure you, he will do much better in the company of my resident doctor, and with him we can continue our lunch; there is no need to worry about the boy now.”
Washington clenched his jaw in anger, internally seething. The boy is bleeding onto your floor, and you have done nothing but cause him more pain. Give. him. to. me.
But none of this was said, because Washington knew it would not stand to say such caustic words to his host. For all Washington knew, this was just an episode of how little Benedict Arnold regarded the staff and a cut caused by a broken tumbler. He had no idea that Arnold may as well have had his gun against Alexander’s forehead, but Alexander did.
Despite himself, the boy’s eyes widened fractionally in fear when George gave a curt nod, allowing him to be taken.
As Washington watched his aide be lead away he felt a growing pit of dread form in his stomach, one that he could not identify but made him nevertheless uneasy.
Meanwhile Hamilton was being roughly dragged through the hallways of Arnold’s hallways, all sense of decorum gone. No one spared a glance towards them, and Hamilton knew then that every single one of them were against the general and himself. Hell, they may even think he was about to be executed.
They may actually be correct.
This prompted a new wave of struggles from the younger officer, as he began to desperately buck and pull at the arm holding him. He was about ready to scream when the general shoved him into a room which Hamilton at first thought was a cell.
It was so dark, with but one lantern to light the entire room. The whole place felt damp, from the floor to the very air, and the only furniture was a straw cot and a table with various apparatus that made the blood drain from Alexander’s face.
Yet before the boy could properly process what was going on he felt his head crack against the stone walls, leaving him dazed and dizzy.
Hamilton glared up at Arnold from his place on the floor, spitting at his feet while trying to navigate the stars flashing across his vision. The general looked surprised, but not as surprised as when Alexander sent a quick kick to his shins and snatched his dagger from his hip.
“Bastard!” Arnold cursed, dodging a sloppily thrown slash of his own dagger.
Oh, you have no idea.
Ultimately, Hamilton knew he wouldn’t be able to escape despite gaining a weapon. He merely hoped to injure Arnold somehow, something to tip Washington off. He held the dagger in his good hand, forgetting about the gash in his right. Instinctively he put weight on it when Arnold advanced with a kick of his own, sending a wave of pain through his arm, and sending him to the ground where the dagger was kicked away from him.
Alexander didn’t know what was going to happen to him, nor was he without fear at the premise of that, but he would be dammed if he went out without a proper fight.
“Is this where you brought my comrades,” Alexander asked, spitting a title at the fallen general, “traitor.”
Arnold merely chuckled, his facade completely forgotten and revealing the sadist he truly was.
“Of course not, boy. You should feel honoured, I merely had those messengers shot; put down like the dogs they were.” Arnold grabbed Alexander’s head, forcing him to look at him in the eye. “But not you, oh no. You will be finished properly…” He carded his fingers through the boy’s hair, tightening his grip and smashing his head back into the stone.
“Washington doesn’t know about the code!” Alexander blurted, the only coherent thought he could formulate. Arnold quirked an eyebrow in interest. “I lied to you, before, when I said he sent them to me. He didn’t, I found them in Boston. He’s never seen it before.”
Hamilton knew he was rambling but he also knew that if Arnold thought he could keep up his charade with Washington then Washington may still get out of here alive.
“Clever boy,” Arnold remarked, reaching for his gun. Alexander’s eyes widened, and he prepared himself for his imminent death as the gun was released from its holster.
But it didn’t come, instead, he felt the cutting edge of a pistol being shoved down his throat.
“It’s quite hard to speak like that isn’t it,” Arnold mocked, faking a pout as he shifted the gun slightly, his smirk widening at the small groan it elicited from the man. “I’ve heard that you quite like speaking, that you’re Washington’s ‘right hand man,’ and fight his battles just as well. Really, you probably know just as much as George does about the war, don’t you?”
He stopped, like he was giving Alexander time to reply. Alexander only glared at him, but wouldn’t dare to struggle with his gun being pushed into his throat as it was now.
“So I could shoot General Washington right now, and still probably be able to extract the same amount of information from you.” Angry grunts now, and a newly ignited fire in Hamilton’s eyes. “Oh, you care for him don’t you?” Arnold began laughing, and it sent a wave a nausea through Hamilton. “You think he returns those affections? Look at yourself boy, you belong in a room with a bell and the likes of Washington and I belong in our own manors, you’re nothing to him but a toy to use and get work done.”
The boy quieted, but his eyes remained widened with what must be a mix of fury and fear. Arnold found he always liked seeing his enemies like this, on their knees, completely at his mercy. Especially this one, who struck him as one that needed to be eliminated.
“I’m not going to kill you here…”
Alexander stared in confusion, what was Arnold thinking? Was he to be tortured for information before being executed?
“I’ll even let you return to Washington.” What the fuck was Arnold thinking? “But if you breathe a word of what you’ve found then I’ll make you watch as I torture Washington into oblivion and then scatter your head onto my walls.” Oh. “Understand?”
Alexander nodded. The pistol was removed from his mouth; he had to spit some blood but was otherwise fine. Arnold began to walk away when he found his voice again.
“Why?” The general stopped, turned around, and replied.
“Because Washington is worth more to me alive than dead, and killing you deprives me of a toy.” And he left. He left Alexander on his knees in a torture chamber/infirmary. For some reason that pissed Hamilton off way more than the pistol down his throat.
Vaguely, he could hear Arnold talking to the doctor, which he had apparently gone to the trouble of calling, how polite.
“No need to be gentle with him.” Scratch the polite bit then.
“General Washington, I’m so sorry about that delay,” Arnold entered the dining room again, minus Hamilton. “I do like seeing that all is well and taken care of when I send a worker to the doctor.”
There was something off in Arnold’s voice and it set Washington even more off centre, but he returned the smile and pleasantries all the same, albeit a bit tight.
“Yes, thank you for taking him. I trust he is alright?”
“Oh yes, he’s more than fine in the care of my physician. But he did say we could continue without him, for it is his writing hand that took the gash,” Arnold sipped his wine conversationally, a certain smugness in his eye. “He’s quite useless now it seems.”
George’s smile tightened as he too took a sip. “I find it very hard to conceive the notion that Alexander Hamilton could be rendered useless, that boy writes dawn to dusk some days.”
“Yes, you did strike gold with that one didn’t you,” he chuckled, putting down the glass and picking up his own quill. “Where did you manage to find him anyways?”
“Sorry?” Washington raised his eyebrows but answered anyways. “He was just one of the men presented to me for the open aide-de-camp position, but I knew when I met him that he had what was needed to tend my affairs.”
“How lucky of you then.” The smile on Arnold’s face was almost sickening, and Washington found his appetite quickly lost.
“Yes, very. Shall we proceed then?”
Hamilton was returned to his room with his hand bound and stitched and a cloth still precariously shoved into his mouth to muffle his screams. He was also blindfolded, for whatever reason, for Hamilton had memorized the passageways his first day here.
Kingsley there was to meet him when the blindfold was removed, which didn’t surprise Alexander all that much.
“I always knew that you were too clever,” the man started with a smirk, opening the door and pulling Alexander in, “shows where being clever gets you, doesn’t it?” The gag was ripped out of his mouth just in time for his reply back.
“And it shows where all the rest end up, doesn’t it?” He smirked at the annoyance that flashed on Kingsley’s face. “I mean, truly, do you believe you will get away with this? Yourself and your employer have to be among the stupidest people I have ever met.”
“You are lucky I am not allowed to leave a mark, Hamilton.”
“I doubt you could leave so much as a red-mark, Kingsley.” The man scoffed, smirking at his companions apparent outrage.
“I’d of liked to see you drowned, did you particularly enjoy it?” Kingsley sneered, satisfaction washing over him as he saw Hamilton try to remain impassive but losing the colour in his face all the same. “That’s a particularly clever brand of torture don’t you agree? No outward scars are left but by God, it is horrible, isn’t? Change into something dry, would you? General Washington and General Arnold are almost finished their meeting.
He kept that damn smirk all the way out of Hamilton’s room, where a resounding click left Hamilton completely alone.
Kingsley had struck a chord with him though, loathe as he was to admit it. Because no matter what he did, Hamilton knew he would never be able to forget the feeling as water filled his nose and mouth, as he gulped and gasped for air through the cloth but couldn’t find any. How he wasn’t being drowned at all, just tortured, how there was no reprieve for him.
How he had been screaming and no one had come. (Not even Washington.)
So he changed into his dry clothes, and tried not to notice that his hair was still wet. He picked up his quill and tried to figure out how he could get out of this in two weeks’ time. Because they were going to take him away from Washington then, either through death or something else, they would take him.
The bell in his room rang half an hour later, and it startled him. Apart from being locked in, he would have never thought that the bell be pulled. He thought that Washington thought he was above that, perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps Arnold was right, he was just another staff member.
But it was an accuse to get out, so he knocked tentatively on the door where he knew there would be a guard stationed.
“General Washington summons me.”
“He’ll worry if I don’t go to him.”
More silence, and then, the door opened.
“Answer his summons. Remember what General Arnold has said.”
Hamilton nodded and started down the hallway, a piece of torn parchment stuffed in his sleeve. When he got there, for the first time since he was hired, he felt he needed to straighten himself before entering the general’s presence.
When Washington answered the door, he was met with the form of his aide bowing to him.
“You summoned me, Your Excellency?”
Washington smiled and ushered him in by the shoulders, to the surprise of all.
“I’m sorry I had to use that blasted bell, they would not let me away from my room, for an apparent security reason.” Alexander blinked in surprise, before nodding his acceptance slowly. “Are you alright, son?”
“I’m fine, sir. It was just a scratch.” Hamilton held up his hand sheepishly, as if to show Washington the bindings. “Benedict Arnold’s physician is very thorough.”
“I’m glad to hear it, I admit the scene at dinner had me vaguely worried for you,” George chuckled, leading Alexander to the sitting area. “Drink?”
“No thank you sir, I’m fine.” He couldn’t handle anything else going down his throat tonight.
“Hamilton…” Washington stared at the boy worriedly, noticing his blood shot eyes and worry lines, “are you sure you’re quite alright?”
The boy looked up from where he had busied himself on the table, and there was just something wrong in his eyes.
“Yes Your Excellency,” he responded almost robotically.
And he was lying, but confronting Hamilton outright never worked out well for anyone, so they sat, and talked, about inconsequential things and war matters alike, Alexander had perked up to almost his normal self by the time a knock sounded on Washington’s door.
A guard stood there, requesting that Hamilton be returned to his room. He waited for them, while Hamilton turned to his commanding officer and took a deep breath, trying to find the right words and right actions that would neither get him killed nor fired.
“Your Excellency, while I was in Boston I was in much closer proximity to a girl that I have kept a correspondence with since her father’s ball.” Washington grinned in spite of himself, watching his boy’s cheeks colour. “I was even allowed to visit her on occasion,” at Washington’s look he added, “that is not why I remained however.”
“Of course not, it just helped.”
“Yes, well,” he chucked nervously, “I received her father’s blessing, and soon after I proposed to her.” Washington’s eyes widened marginally, not expecting his aide’s words. “Just three days ago, actually,” he rambled. “And she has accepted, and we’re to be married.”
“I must offer congratulations Alexander! I had no idea that you were…” so grown up “that far in your relationship.”
The boy smiled, a truly happy smile, and nodded. “Yes, well, she’s amazing, and I love her. I want our love to be final in case…” He gestured around vaguely, but Washington got the message.
“Well, you know I will do everything in my power to prevent that.”
“Yes sir, as I was saying sir, I… my father, is no longer in my life.” Alexander gulped. “It would please me… very much sir…” You’re going to die soon anyways, why hesitate? “It would please me very much if you were attendance.”
There was a silence then, and for a moment Alexander thought he was about to be rejected, and then, “I would be honoured.”
And Hamilton was smiling again, and he had his note ready, for when he barrelled into Washington’s arms. Washington caught him, of course he did, and wrapped his arms around the boy.
For a moment, Alexander allowed himself to relish the embrace, feeling tears pricking at his eyes before he tilted his head and whispered in a quick desperation, “When I’m gone check your pockets,” and wrenching away, allowing the guard to take his arm and lead him back to his cell.
How curious that he was a prisoner while stilling living amongst free men.
When he returned to his room, he did no more plotting nor preparations. He’d done his part as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, he’d (hopefully) warned the general.
Alexander Hamilton may not be getting out of here alive but he’d be in the depths of Hell before he let Washington suffer a similar fate.
Meanwhile Washington unfolded the small piece of parchment left in his pocket after he was sure no one was around, holding his candle up to it in order to see the dainty handwriting he knew so well.
The horses have caught up to me it seems,
I’m still breaking the stallion at home in, he’s used
to being the leader of the herd, so he’s particularly
impenetrable. I cannot get him out of whatever state
he's in now, misses his mare perhaps, imagine that.
Perhaps you could try in our return.
It was vague and nonsensical to most but Washington understood perfectly.
I’ve uncovered the spies and they know. The leader is here, it’s our host. We can’t leave. They’ve caught me and I can’t escape, I want you to go home and leave me here.
He’d always been fond of hearing Hamilton’s advice but in this instance there was no way in Hell he would leave him behind, even if they tried to restrict him, which they clearly already were.
George realized then, that that was why Hamilton had been so wrong in their visit. They’d hurt him. They’d hurt him right under Washington’s nose.
And if that wasn’t their biggest mistake yet he didn’t know what was.
So again, thank you so much for all your wonderful reviews, that is really the reason that I'm so motivated to post new content in as short amount of time as possible, so THANK YOU.
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Chapter 6: Of Screams and Tears
The charade is over, and Hamilton and Washington are both made aware of this in the most painful ways imaginable.
AH I AM A HORRIBLE PERSON. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME (it was school, BUT STILL) I'm so late with this update oh my goodness! I got super busy doing the whole life thing, especially as everything begins to come to a close at the end of the year and stuff. And you guys were so great with the reviews, like really this should've been posted way before now, just because of reviews alone.
THAT IS NO EXCUSE THOUGH - thats why I tried making this chapter good, even though its a little shitty, but I had to make it on the zooms zooms so we're just going to go with ti for now!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Three mornings later they came and took him. Morning being the operative word here, though it felt as if it were still nightfall. Perhaps that was because Hamilton had only just fallen asleep for but two hours time before he was ripped away by unforgiving hands.
“Come along Alexander,” Kingsley said flippantly.
“You’ve not been afforded the right to call me by my first name, sir,” Alexander bit back.
“Washington has,” Kingsley smirked at the man’s stony face, “oh, do you miss him?” He fake pouted, taking perverse pleasure in watching Hamilton’s reactions. “If I had my way, I’d shoot you in front of him, and then hang him from the gallows, as any traitor should.”
“How elaborate.” Alexander smirked and Kingsley’s clear irritation and his lack of response.
“General Arnold listened to my request, and I’m to be present tonight. Perhaps I may even join in. Will you scream extra loud for me?” Finally Kingsley achieved what he wanted, as Alexander’s face lost all colour. “Are you frightened? There is no shame in that.”
Hamilton glared at the other, decidedly keeping silent. Taking the hint, Kingsley latched onto his arm, guiding him through the corridors in his now bound state.
From a window he could see that it was still dark out, meaning dawn had yet to come. Alexander wondered absently if Arnold had particular trouble getting out of bed at this time or was excited enough about watching, doing, breaking.
Unsurprisingly, he was delivered to the same room as before. Both his hand and his lungs ached at the fresh memory of that night.
It was just as dark, just as depressing, and just as wet. Standing in the orange candle’s glow was Arnold, a sneer plastered on his face that caught Alexander’s breath in his throat, two soldiers, and the ‘doctor’ whom Hamilton met prior.
“We hope we did not interrupt your rest,” Arnold grinned.
“I’d hardly call laying on the cinderblock you deign a bed rest, sir.”
“Still such a mouth on you boy, I’d have thought you would have figured out that for your sake you should probably…” Arnold gestured for Kingsley to bring the boy to him, and Alexander found himself stationed directly in front of the mad general, “stay quiet?”
Hamilton felt his knees being forced out from under him, and the cool metal of a pistol force his throat to tilt upwards, meeting General Arnold’s malicious stare.
“Remember this?” The general taunted, moving the barrel of the pistol against Alexander’s throat, running it up and over the corner of his mouth. Unlike before he did not force it through his mouth, but seemed to relish in the fear that Hamilton exerted that he would. “Bad luck for you boy, I’d hoped to keep my farce up a bit longer, but Washington has grown suspicious.”
“That’s no fault of mine, you were all incompetent at discretion in the first place. You’ve restricted me in every way, not allowed Washington and I to be alone together for the past four days, and upped his security around here to paranoia levels. Any man would become suspicious at that.”
“Only a man who suspects something in the first place.”
“You make no sense,” Alexander spat, jerking his head angrily away from the pistol.
“Unfortunately for you I don’t need to make sense, I only need to have the power.”
“That’s all you have, isn’t it? You lust for more power, more, more, you lap it up like a starving dog and that is exactly what you are, a dog. You will never be as powerful as Washington, in any sense!” Alexander’s words were cold and to the point, almost tearing through flesh itself as he became more animated, by the end of his sentence his tongue was dripping animosity.
Arnold, for his part, did almost well in remaining impassive. Hamilton could tell that they had gotten to him, by the way his eyes seemed to lose any patience they’d once had and be replaced by cool fury.
“We shall see.”
Hamilton smirked, though felt his insides beginning to coil at the prospect of being subjected to torture again. Then, Arnold turned to the two soldiers.
“Fetch General Washington.”
The change was immediate.
“What? No! Why are you getting him, there is still ten days left,” Alexander struggled, quieted only by the reappearance of the pistol against his lips.
“Shhh, dear boy, I tire of your voice,” Arnold cooed, almost affectionately. “As I said, he is suspicious of me, and I have no doubt that you managed to pass a message along. You are the clever one.”
Hamilton drew away from the man unconsciously, his body and soul sensing the danger. Arnold continued,
“He has not shared any pertinent information in the past three days, yet on the first he gave it freely, I am not daft.”
Alexander had to use every inch of willpower to hold his tongue.
“I was told there was a little display of emotion the first night as well, I passed it off as a dying whim. But… you gave him a message didn’t you? I admit, when my men searched they found none, but I’m nearly sure you did.”
Alexander made no reply but did not move his eyes from staring straight into Arnold’s.
“Never mind that now, Washington is valuable dead or alive, and so are you. I know what you’re thinking, George Washington is very strong and a formidable opponent indeed, but I was never one to play fairly…” Arnold’s stare grew into a wicked grin and the coil in Hamilton’s stomach twisted painfully.
The door opened and four men, instead of the two that had been sent, dragged in the general. Only then did Hamilton show his fear. Washington still looked thunderous in his posture and countenance but swayed uneasily when he was released from the soldiers’ holds.
“Your Excellency-” Hamilton barely got the words out before the pistol was unceremoniously shoved through his lips once more, making him gasp and choke.
“Still feeling the effects of the wine then, general,” Arnold asked, smirking at the other’s helplessness. “You’re still aware though, aren’t you? It would be considerably less fun to do this with you lost in your head.”
“I demand to know what the Hell you think you are doing, Benedict. You have no right-”
“Ah, so the great General Washington is indeed aware of his surroundings. How fortunate.”
George could see through the haze of exhaustion and drugs they’d given him yes, but his mind felt like cotton and his thoughts translated into words at half the speed they usually could. But seeing Alexander there, his aide, his bright innocent aide, kneeled before Benedict Arnold with a pistol in his mouth had the same effect as a bucket of ice water being thrown over him.
He was ready to murder each and every one of them.
“You have no right,” George tried again, only to stop on his own accord when Arnold pushed the pistol further into Alexander’s mouth and the boy’s eyes widened in pain and fear.
“I believe I have every right,” Arnold replied nonchalantly, “you both are traitors in my own household. Even if I don’t, I have the power, and those two are all but synonyms.”
George could see no way out of this, yet. His mind had ground to a painful halt seeing Alexander in that position, and all he wanted to do was get him out.
“Please let Officer Hamilton up,” he finally acquiesced, “he and I won’t cause you any trouble.”
Benedict smirked, his gaze shifting from the boy to his commanding officer. The click of the gun cocking echoed off the walls. Washington took a step forward, quickly restrained by his men, fear radiating off his entire person.
“You dear boy has visited this room once before, general, and I assure you, it’s purpose is not keeping anyone captive.”
Said boy was struggling to calm his breathing, feeling the beginnings of panic build up.
Mama, Eliza, Laurens, Lafayette, Hercules, Washington.
Mama, Eliza, Laurens, Lafayette, Hercules, Washington
Mama, Eliza, Laurens, Lafayette, Hercules, Washington
Mama, Eliza, Laurens, Lafayette, Hercules, Washington
He repeated over and over, coming to terms with his imminent death.
The world was just a huge blur of light and darkness, silence and ringing, and pain and peace. He couldn’t focus on anything, he couldn’t see Arnold taunting Washington, couldn’t hear Washington beg for his life. Alexander only came to himself when he was roughly yanked up, thrown towards two other men.
“Kingsley, have your fun. And please, do entertain me,” Arnold ordered. He glanced at George, who watched with widened eyes. “Bind the general over there, where he is afforded a spectacular view.”
They’re going to torture me, Alexander thought, his wild eyes finding and holding Washington’s, who only reflected fear. And they’re going to make the general watch.
It was at that point that he began to struggle with everything that he had. An approaching soldier received a harsh kick to the abdomen, and when he got his arm free his holders both received elbows or fists to the jaw. Hamilton knew how to fight, it was essential in growing up where he did.
So Alexander knew that his blows had hurt.
In the end he was taken down by the first man he’d struck, receiving a sharp blow to the back of his head and toppling over, feeling the point of a boot being swung into his stomach, over and over.
“Stop!” Washington cried, feeling his wrists become slick in blood from his struggling. The boy fell boneless after taking innumerable blows from Arnold’s men.
Arnold smirked, but lifted his hand, telling the men to stop.
“That’s enough boys,” Washington sighed in relief only to feel his heart plummet in his stomach. “Young Officer Hamilton is Kingsley’s to play with tonight.”
The subdued officer was restrained against a wooden table, which only served to send him into a frenzy.
“It seems Hamilton remembers me treating his accident,” George heard the man standing beside Arnold chuckle. Of everything that had happened in the past two days, that was the most painful to George. He’d sent Hamilton to their torture chambers; the boy had all but pleaded with him and yet he’d still allowed it.
“Indeed, did you find it quite so satisfied when he was allowed to speak or not?” Arnold, replied, casting his gaze to Washington. “What do you think, George? I imagine this one must get on your nerves sometimes, with how much he has to say at any given moment.”
“Let him go, Arnold. He hasn’t done anything!”
“On the contrary, he’s done far too much,” Arnold growled, stalking over to where Hamilton was now being displayed for better viewing. “I’ve decided,” he grinned at Washington, tracing the lines of Alexander’s jaw as he did. “Give me a rag.”
The doctor grinned and obeyed, producing the filthiest rag Washington had ever seen, and gingerly handing it to the general.
“Don’t…” Alexander begged weakly, meeting Arnold’s gleeful eyes with pleading ones of his own. Arnold only laughed, and shoved the cloth into the boy’s mouth.
“Blindfold him,” the general ordered, chuckling darkly as he watched the boy begin struggling against his restraints once more. “My, my, Washington, you certainly know how to pick them. This one acts as if he can take the world with a couple of words, and now look at him.”
Washington was already looking though, he was watching with panicked eyes as his boy struggled with every bit of life inside of him, and he could do nothing.
A rag was placed over Alexander’s nose and mouth and Arnold’s aide advanced with a water canister, a wicked grin forming as he took in his victim. Washington knew what they were going to do, it didn’t stop the tears that ran down his cheeks when Alexander started to scream.
The most powerful man in America had never felt so helpless. Of course he screamed, and of course he fought with everything he had to get to the boy, but in the end he was still watching young, innocent, Hamilton convulse and scream as they made him think he was drowning.
Not him, please, not him, not him. He doesn’t deserve it, don’t, don’t, don’t. Stop, please, take me instead, stop, give him back to me… please.
Eventually, the boy just… stopped.
The room fell eerily quiet at the sudden disappearance of both Washington and Hamilton’s screams, and a sudden stillness as all stared at the motionless body against the table.
Kingsley pushed his fingers into Hamilton’s neck, checking for a pulse, and for a moment George’s heart stopped.
No, no, no, no, NO.
“He lives.” George might’ve burst into tears if he wasn’t already so spent.
“Very well, give him to the general then,” Arnold ordered dismissively, clearly put out that his entertainment had been cut short.
One of Washington’s hands were freed, the other still chained to the wall, but it was all he needed. They released Hamilton, roughly throwing him towards his arms. Washington caught the boy, as he had promised he always would, and cradled him protectively to his chest.
No force, from Heaven, Hell, or earth was ever going to take him away again.
“Enjoy it, General,” Arnold cut the silence, watching the pair as a scientist would examine his specimen, “because the boy dies at noon.”
Uh-oh. What's gonna happen...? Who knows? I don't! (Just kidding I do, but tell me what you think anyways and maybe I'll post the chapter ON TIME.)
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Chapter 7: Moments Where the Words Don't Reach
Suffering too terrible to name, pushing away the unimaginable.
OH MY GOD I'M SO SORRY
I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON
I'm so sorry for how LATE this chapter is, life finessed me hard, but never fear, Chapter Seven is here! (Enjoy, I hope!) I'm also so sorry if I couldn't reply to your comment, I appreciate you so much, I am just absolutely swamped right now. sO much love from me though.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The boy came back to him with a desperate gasp for air, trying to bolt away from Washington’s protective embrace. They had manacled his hands together behind him, and attached the chain to the wall away from Washington’s. While it pulled his shoulder uncomfortably taut to do so, Washington had moved as close as possible to Hamilton’s chain to reduce the stress against the boy’s shoulders.
From there they had sat, motionless save George’s slight rocking, silent save his whispered comforts.
Hamilton came to already thrashing, a strangled scream pulling itself from his throat. George kept a tight grip on his shoulders, lest he dislocate them, but kept his touch and voice gentle until the child in his arms understood his surroundings.
“Alexander, it’s me. Shhh…” The boy was still leaning over the general’s lap, pulled there by the general himself, and was fighting desperately with his bindings. “You’re safe, you’re alright. I’m right here, you’re safe.”
He quieted, but from the way that Alexander was looking at him George knew that he could recognize the lie for what it was.
“I’m not going to let them do anything to you.” You already have.
Finally, his aide spoke. “You’ll not have a choice, Your Excellency.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Hamilton knew, objectively, that this notion was impossible. Not even George Washington could get them out of this situation, and that was alright. They had tried, Hamilton had tried with all his might, but he supposed he knew that he was dead the moment he caught sight of Arnold’s symbol.
“It’s alright sir. I’m not particularly disposed towards dying, but I’ve made my peace with it a long time ago.”
“Don’t say that,” Alexander looked up at Washington’s harsh tone, seeming to finally register the general’s hold of him when the fingers tightened. “You’re not dying, not today, and not for a long whiles yet.”
Alexander smiled, allowing himself this moment of peace before the hurricane. Perhaps he was living on borrowed time anyways, he could die and perhaps see his mother again. Washington felt the shift in weight as Hamilton relaxed, a content smile on his exhausted face.
“There are some situations that can’t be resolved, not even by you, Your Excellency.”
“I wish you would not call me that,” George sighed. “I’ve said on multiple occasions that you might be inclined to call me George.”
“I might be,” Alexander replied, his head lolling towards the general’s chest, that ever resigned smile still present, “but I will never have earned that luxury.”
“You’ve earned that luxury a hundred times over, son.”
“I’m not your son.” He’d heard that reply more than a dozen times over, but never said so affectionately.
“Any man would be most fortunate indeed, to have you as a son, would be so proud of you Alexander.”
George was not expecting a reply, thinking that Hamilton would drift into unconsciousness again, but one came.
“No, he wasn’t.” It was at that moment that George realized that Hamilton had never said his father was dead; he’d said that he was gone. He had always said that he was gone, while he described his mother as passed.
Alexander’s father hadn’t died, but the alternative was unthinkable.
“I thought I should tell at least one person,” the boy continued, staring unseeingly at the ceiling, “before I go too. No one here knows, everyone on Nevis did. I knew that if I were to tell anyone, I’d never be able to create the life that I had imagined. It’s much easier being an orphan to death than an orphan to a bastard.”
George’s heart broke, because this boy was only a child, and had already known so much tragedy. They had talked once, late in the night, back home at the base. So George knew about his mother, his cousin, the hurricane, and he’d thought his father. But Alexander hadn’t lost his father, his father hadn’t wanted him. He’d shouldered the burden of being a bastard child and had had no one support him for ten years.
“That makes it easier, doesn’t it?” The whisper was almost too quiet for George to hear.
“Makes what easier?” He shifted his arms, so that Alexander was less sprawled against him and more cradled comfortably. The boy tensed, but was above reservations as of now, it seemed.
“Letting me go.” The statement sucked the air away from George’s chest.
“Alexander, I will not abandon you to death on account of your parentage. I’ll not abandon you for anything, don’t you understand?”
“They’ve told you when I’m going to die, haven’t they?” It was a statement rather than a question, but it still left Washington speechless. “I know they would’ve… because they’re sadists; it’s what they thrive off of. So when is it?”
“I won’t let them-”
“You don’t have a choice,” Alexander roughly interrupted, shifting away from Washington. Both felt the loss of the other’s weight. “It is better for everyone if you just let them, and tell me.”
There was a tense silence while the two men battled through their eyes, and as it would have it, George lost.
“Noon. They said noon.” Hamilton was almost taken aback by how defeated the general sounded, he couldn’t understand why.
“That’s all I wanted to know,” Alexander assented, relaxing back towards Washington, but not fully returning to the embrace. It would be nothing but cruelty if he were to fall asleep only to be ripped away from Washington to be murdered. “It’s for the best anyways, think of it a mercy. I will not live to be their plaything.”
The sob that tore its way from Washington’s chest startled the boy, taking him by surprise. It seemed to rip his throat, as suddenly as lightening struck. Hamilton didn’t understand it, they had been talking calmly enough before, why was the general distressed now?
“Sir?” Washington, for his credit, was brave enough to meet his aide’s eyes despite the tears glistening and pooling in his own. “Don’t be upset, perhaps they will spare you.”
“That would be no mercy to me, Alexander,” the general whispered, his hands moving to cup Hamilton’s still damp hair. Slowly, Alexander’s hands wrapped around George’s, giving them a soft squeeze.
“I do not care what happens in the coming hour Your Excellency, I just want you to know that you are not to blame for any of it.”
Washington took a shuddering breath, closing his eyes and allowing himself to fantasize that he was anywhere but here. Finally, he found his voice again.
“Alexander, when you were in my room, before. You asked me-”
“The wedding was legitimate, sir. It was not a farce, nothing about it was a charade.” The look shared between the two told Hamilton his meaning was not lost.
“So, you and Elizabeth…”
“Yes. I love her, and I would have wanted none other than you to attend our wedding, as I said. If you,” Alexander stopped and searched for his words, unaccustomed to the practice, “if you get out of here… please, take care of her for me.”
“You can take care of her yourself son, alright?”
“Just- please. Promise me, that you’ll try and do your best for her.”
Perhaps it was Alexander’s tone, how he seemed desperate and rushed, or the way he seemed to shift nervously, but Washington felt compelled to agree. So he nodded his head, swearing on his soul that Eliza Schuyler would receive Alexander’s last wish.
“You’re a good man, George,” Alexander whispered, his eyes shifting to the door. “I’d forgotten what happiness was until I joined your staff, thank you for being so good to me.”
The door opened with a deafening screech in the silence that had once reigned.
“Don’t ever forget how much I loved you,” Alexander finished. Arnold entered with the men they had seen before, and Hamilton found himself forcibly pulled away from Washington, who strained himself horribly trying to keep a hold on the boy. The general earned himself a swift kick in the head for his efforts.
The boy’s last statement left George reeling, but he was not so confused as to not feel the loss of Hamilton’s weight exponentially. When the blood had cleared from his vision and the world stopped spinning nauseatingly fast the first thing George noticed was they had unchained Alexander and brought him back to kneel before Arnold.
“I really do like this position on you, boy,” Arnold sneered.
Hamilton stayed silent. He wanted his last words to be of love and affection, not hate or fear.
“Don’t you think so Kingsley?” Arnold turned to his aide, smiling as he admired what he was building the boy into.
Like an adoring pup the boy came to his side with a little smile, nodding his head in agreement. Arnold clasped his shoulder, throwing a triumphant glance over his shoulder as Washington watched.
“Do you think so, General Washington?” Kingsley asked, glancing at Arnold for approval, which he received.
Every nerve in his body screamed at him to lunge, and shout. But he didn’t, he couldn’t. Instead, Washington kept his voice calm and level, “It’s not yet noon, it can’t be. What are you doing?”
“It’s our prerogative when to kill our prisoners, is it not? So what if we got restless, we gave you your hour’s time.”
“It’s not enough,” Washington ground out, glaring daggers at the two monsters in front of him but softening his glance every time his gaze would flicker to Alexander.
“Nothing will ever be enough for you Washington. A real general would ensure his own survival over his aide, for the good of the war, but no; not you. Because you care for this one, I daresay you love him.”
Hamilton’s eyes widened, alarmed at Arnold’s words. He stared defiantly ahead, refusing to meet anyone’s eyes, especially Washington’s.
“You do not need to kill him.” George knew he was being pathetic, but if there was anything he could do to stop this tirade he would do it. “Only me, you can let him go.” Hamilton almost argued, but remembered at the last moment to stop.
Kingsley and Arnold glanced at each other, a sick smile growing on both countenances.
“No, I don’t need to kill him,” Arnold relented, drawing his gun from his holster. He released the safety, while Kingsley drew his own. George and Alexander both followed the movement of the gun with their eyes, one more distressed than the other. “But you could.”
Hamilton’s eyes flashed in alarm just as Washington and he both realized what was being proposed. Arnold had his gun outstretched towards the general, beckoning him to take it.
“No,” George felt the word ripped out of his throat on its own accord, his mind unable to fathom what was being forced to him. “No, I won’t.”
“Take the gun, Your Excellency,” Arnold shoved it closer towards George, “and if you shoot myself or my men I will make you watch as I tear that boy apart, until he begs for the sweet mercy of death.” When Washington would not move Arnold’s voice turned to a shout, “go on! Take it!”
“I won’t!” George screamed, lunging towards Arnold.
“I may yet let you go, general, if you do this for me.” This caught Hamilton’s attention; it drove him to finally meet his commander’s eyes, urging him to take the offering.
Washington near never denied Hamilton anything, unless he felt it would keep him safe. He was not going to do this.
“You either kill the boy humanely, and I let you go, or I’ll take my sweet time with him and then afterwards kill you anyways. Use your senses George, the boy dies anyways.”
“Kill me, let Alexander go, please.”
“No can-do, Your Excellency. Though it is tempting,” Washington watched with enraged eyes as Arnold began to stroke the top of Alexander’s head. “Hamilton has wormed his way into my personal affections and I would indeed love to keep him.”
Alexander closed his eyes at the general’s touch, trying desperately to control his breathing. He couldn’t stand being touched, touch meant cruelty; he’d learned it on the island and it had been reinforced here.
“Get your hands off of him.” Washington’s voice was nothing but danger, but Benedict only laughed.
“You are a walking contradiction, George. First you don’t want me to kill him, now you want me to stop touching him, despite it being something that’s at least keeping him alive. But you’re correct, that right is reserved for you alone, isn’t it?” Arnold’s smirk grew at Washington’s outraged expression. “Oh, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed his body, that must be why you hired him in the first place.”
“I’m not. You can fess up Washington, I noticed him the moment I set my eyes on him, and he’s spent considerably less time in my presence than yours.”
“I said get away from him!” And Arnold did. For a moment Alexander swore he saw fear flash across his eyes as he took a step away.
“You’re right; you’ve a greater task now Washington. Bring the boy before him.” Hamilton felt his shoulder pull, until he was dragged and kneeling in front of Washington. Cruel as ever, Washington could not reach him except with the pistol he’d been forced to take.
Both prisoners were silent, until finally Alexander broke his vow.
“Just do it!” He yelled, tears welling in his eyes. “What good does it do the war if you die as well?”
“Alexander, I won’t kill you!” Washington didn’t think Alexander realized what they were asking him to do. He would rather die than live with this.
Kill his aide.
Bright, beautiful, Alexander.
“It will be a mercy if you do, Washington. Ten seconds, or I’ll take him now. Ten…”
Alexander felt tears roll down his cheeks.
Washington felt a sob rip from his chest.
Arnold smiled at the clear torment on Washington’s face.
Kingsley watched avidly, sifting through his confusing emotions.
Hamilton closed his eyes, pressed his head against the barrel.
Washington looked away.
The grip on the gun readjusted, tightened.
Hamilton pulled the smiling faces of Eliza, his mother, Laurens, Washington, everyone he wanted to think about before he was ended
The trajectory of the gun suddenly changed, pointed at Arnold, and the trigger was pulled.
Washington felt himself fill with horror as he realized what had happened. They hadn’t filled the gun with powder; it was a trick. Arnold was smiling at him, but there was a certain rage behind his eye that stopped George’s heart. Benedict’s smile turned authoritative as he inclined his head to his men and barked an order.
“Take the boy behind back and shoot him, I don’t want the blood staining my floors.”
Washington made a mad grab for Hamilton as the guards advanced for him. “No! Please, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please. Don’t take him, don’t take him, please!” He caught Hamilton’s hand for a second, a second before he was ripped away again.
Alexander struggled with all his might, kicking his legs wildly as they pulled him back. With growing determination he jerked his arms out of their holds and made a desperate throw for their gun.
The sound of a gunshot echoed through the room and Washington’s heart stopped.
But it was a miracle, not a tragedy. One of Alexander’s guards fell to the ground, dead, and it left only the other to try and contain him.
His arms ached from his mistreatment, and his chest still burned with effort as he tried to breathe. Everything he did sent shards of pain through his whole body but he had to keep fighting. Not that it was easy. His hands were shaking, and the torch kept begging to catch his eye, but there was only the next defence, the next strike.
He grabbed the guard and kneed him in the gut, shoved him towards the wall. There was a crack and he too fell to the ground. He was free.
So many sounds, so much movement.
His chest hurt.
Arnold lunged. Hamilton swerved, ducked and rolled away from him. He caught the edge of something sharp. Whatever it was, it did the trick. Arnold cried out, a newly torn gash in his stomach.
“Hamilton!” Alexander’s focus was drawn away from the general by Kingsley’s voice, and with it his advantage. Kingsley had placed his gun at Washington’s forehead. “Drop the dagger.”
He did, much to Washington’s dismay. Arnold yanked his arms back behind him, quickly fastening them together. His wounds were not fatal, unfortunately.
“Unlock the general” Arnold barked, baring his teeth like a rabid dog. “He can watch as his precious aide dies.”
Washington didn’t know how it had all gone so wrong.
It was his fault that Alexander was even here, he’d been the one to order him to come. If he hadn’t then none of this would have happened. It was his fault.
There was no more screaming on his part, no more pleas or begging, he just felt… dead.
He was tied to a pole, of all things, facing where Alexander was stood. He looked blank too, but not dead, not yet.
“Kneel.” George’s attention was captured by Arnold’s voice.
“No.” That was Hamilton for you, to the last breath.
Arnold forced him down, which Alexander uncharacteristically allowed. His hands were bound in the front, and he was wearing nothing more than his shirt and breeches. It wasn’t a welcome sight, but it was an unusual one.
There were… five men, maybe more, invited to watch this spectacle. Arnold, Kingsley, Washington, two guards. They were outside. It was like Washington could taste freedom but could not see it.
A gun was prepared, Washington watched numbly. He knew how to do that, he could do it in his sleep.
There was lull in the excitement then, a calm before the storm. And it was at that exact moment that Hamilton struck.
A quick foot extended and tripped Arnold, followed by a quick flourish of his sleeve which revealed a shard of dagger he had been keeping concealed. It made quick work of his bindings, but turned his white sleeve red.
It was like nothing George had ever seen before, how fast Alexander was when he was fighting. He knew, of course, that he was proficient enough, but this was something entirely different, this was a boy who knew how to fight.
He ducked and jumped, knowing where to go to dodge an attack before the attack was even made.
Within a minute Washington felt his bindings cut, he was immediately up and pulling Alexander away, delivering a brutal fist to a guard who had tried to grab the boy. He spun the man around, taking his gun from the holster and firing at Arnold, hitting his shoulder. Washington filled with a savage delight in hearing his cry of pain, of seeing him hurt.
Washington felt himself fill with something other than horror or despair as they took off; hope.
Alexander tripped, his wounds beginning to take their toll on his body. Washington caught him. (He’d promised.) They continued running, ducking the bullets that whizzed by them, all missing their mark. George could faintly hear the shouting of Arnold and his men, but they were dull and muted, by distance or adrenaline he couldn’t tell.
Hamilton clasped his arm and threw them both against a wooden structure, winding the both of them. At that moment a bullet shot where George was standing not three seconds ago.
For a moment, they just… breathed.
And then the moment ended. Hamilton looked at George, his inner fire returned, grabbed his arm, and bolted again. Before Washington knew what was happening the boy had slid under the stable fences, raising to his feet again in one fluid motion. Washington wasn’t sure what he was planning but Alexander had disappeared, so he followed.
It didn’t take long to understand why Alexander had lead them here. Their horses were kept here, and were both anxious to see their riders, his horse hadn’t failed him to date, today was not the day to doubt if they could get out on them.
“Sir?” Alexander shook him from his stupor, when he focused again he realized numbly that Alexander had put a bridle on his horse and lead the stallion to him. “I think we need to cut this visit short.”
“Right as ever Alexander, let’s-”
The door to the stable burst open. Alexander was quick, ducking under a punch and elbowing the man in the back, twisting his neck to an unnatural angle and taking the gun before it fired. Washington kept to his task of preparing the horses, but always kept an eye on Hamilton should he need help.
Hamilton knew nothing but the fight, losing himself in staying alive. He knew he was smaller than most of these men, but that made him quicker than them all. He was in all likelihood, more clever than them as well. The first thing Alexander did when he started a fight was figure out how to finish it, both through his opponent’s weakness and his environment.
Washington watched amazed as Alexander finished his current opponent and scurried up a rope, hanging there till another man entered, three more hot on his trail. Hamilton swung till he was had a grip on the release to the hanging pieces of stablehand tools, and released them, not only cutting off the entrance to the stable but wounding a few men. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Hamilton was not only a boy but a solider as well. George’s amazement soon turned to fear as the excitement seemed to wear from Hamilton’s body and he swayed dangerously upon the rope before sliding down at a pace much to rapid for Washington’s liking.
He was barely conscious.
“Hamilton, we need to go,” he muttered uselessly as he lead him towards his waiting horse. The boy nodded, shaking his head of the fog.
Hamilton’s vision cleared, but his heart wouldn’t stop pounding in his chest. He exited the stable before Washington did, both leading their horses by their reins. Alexander couldn’t see any more guards approaching, but the flash of something caught his focus.
Kingsley and Arnold had caught up with them. Kingsley was holding a gun, which had flashed in the sunlight. But he wasn’t pointing it at Alexander, he was pointing it at…
Washington felt a warm spray hit his face and for a moment the world was painstakingly still.
Then the crushing weight of a body slammed into his chest.
Kingsley dropped, Alexander’s shot fatally accurate. But it wasn’t enough; he hadn’t fired in time to stop the other aide from getting a shot off as well.
It was going to hit Washington. Hamilton took it for him, feeling the bite of the bullet as it ripped apart his stomach.
Washington instinctively wrapped his arms around the body, trying to ignore that it was Alexander’s blood sprayed across his face.
“Alexander!” There was blood, so much blood, too much blood. Oh God, don’t do this. Please, not now. No, no no no no NO He was trying to hold up his boy but he was dead weight against his chest.
Hamilton could comprehend little behind the pain, but he knew that Washington was holding him.
Washington felt like he’d taken a throw to the chest.
“No! No, I won’t.”
“Please,” the boy rasped, pushing away from the man who’d been more a father than his father had been, “I promise, I’ll see you again.”
“Please don’t make me do this…”
“I’ll find my way back, promise…” Hamilton knew he didn’t have much time left, he also knew that he was most likely lying, but he couldn’t care. Not now.
Washington half-carried half-dragged his boy towards his horse, ignoring his protests till he leaned him against his horse. Hamilton spit blood and grasped onto the horse, his eyes focusing on Arnold; he’d recovered from his shock and was taking in the scene with an array of emotions ranging from fury to surprise. If he caught up to them, if they lost this small advantage that they had, both men were dead; Washington wasn’t going to leave him either.
Washington was never going to leave him, and it sent something warm through Hamilton’s split gut, something pleasant to think about as he attempted to mount his horse.
“Fine, go,” the boy rasped, gripping the mane of the horse for all that he had. “I’ll be behind you.”
Satisfied, George mounted his horse and lifted Alexander up his own, trying to put the cry of pain out of his mind. The horses bolted, and it was agony for Alexander.
He couldn’t do this. He wasn’t going to make it.
More bullets cracked the air, unable to make their marks. Hamilton knew that they would not be able to follow on horseback until the stable was cleared, giving them more of an advantage, and with the renowned speed of both horses, by the time that was completed they would be long gone. Hamilton was grateful that his horse seemed to instinctively know where to go, because he could be no help in commanding her.
When the gunshots grew more distant, and the threat of imminent danger passed, George felt a bout of laughter burst from his chest as if the first blossoms of spring. He looked at the young soldier before him, just relishing for a moment this miracle; alive, both of them.
Washington’s laughter was the last sound Hamilton heard before the world consumed him into darkness.
Yeah, not 100% sure about the quality of this chapter. That's another reason it's a bit late, I got hit with writers block hardcore. I'm so sorry about that though, reading your reviews really did make my day. Multiple times. :D
I love you all!
Chapter 8: Normal...?
Washington felt that he had to relearn everything. How to live, speak, think, move.
Hi! It's so great to see you guys again, it's been too long I know! I feel like I should explain myself a little bit. First off, life is wild and it gets even more wild right at the beginning of Summer hols. AKA I was at a camp and had no access to any writing apparatus, and before that I had school.
Secondly, writers block is a real bitch. (Watch my profanity.) So I'm not 100% sure about this chapter, not 100% happy with it, but it's the best I can do and that's enough for me. It's also super short, sorry about that.
Hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
George’s eyes widened in alarm, his arms lurching to catch the boy’s collapsing body as a shout was ripped from his throat. Hamilton, thank God, collapsed towards George, who just barely managed to transfer the boy from one horse to his own. He ripped Alexander’s shirt away, pressing it against the nauseating wound.
The boy was deadweight against his commander’s chest, but was so, so light. They hadn’t fed him at all. Who was he kidding, he hadn’t seen a good meal since he joined the army.
But the worst of all was Washington’s own hands, which were coated and sticky in his boy’s blood. It was everywhere. He was going to bleed out, Hell, he might already have. No. No, no, no, there was no time to think like that now. Alexander was going to live.
“Hey, son, you have to wake up for me okay,” George begged while patting at Alexander’s cheek, his hands leaving bloody smears. “Fight Alexander, you have to fight. You’ve fought your whole goddamn life, you fought our way out of that Hell hole, do not give up now.”
Washington increased the pressure on the wound, hoping for even the slightest reaction from the boy, and felt the beginnings of hopelessness creep into his heart when he received none.
Benedict and his men weren’t that far away, they had only gotten away because they kept moving. They had to keep moving, but that would mean… no. No, he couldn’t possibly- Would he abandon his… NO.
They were out of time. If he kept riding, Alexander might die. Hamilton needed help, if he didn’t ride, and got recaptured, then he would definitely die.
A sob ripped its way from his throat without warning, his despair emphasized by the limp body pressed against his chest. Blood was beginning to drip from the wound again, the shirt soaked through. He had to close the wound, he had to… but how?
A horrifying realization came upon the commander as an idea came to mind. The horses’ fixings, there was a buckle, and some leather string…
Stop it, you old man, you’ve no training nor idea on what that could do to him.
But he’s going to bleed out.
So be it, you let him die, face it without holding onto your meagre hope.
No. I have to try.
You could kill him.
He’ll die anyways if I do nothing.
Washington stiffly grasped for the Hamilton’s horse’s bridle, snapping the centre piece of the buckle away and deftly maneuvering the leather till it was worked through and wound around his fingers.
You’re going to hurt him. You’re going to torture him.
…Haven’t I already?
With no time to doubt himself Washington plunged the sharp side of the broken metal into Alexander’s tender skin close to his wound. Perhaps The Lord was punishing George Washington, for Alexander had gained some semblance of consciousness at that moment, his back arching and strangled screams yowling from his throat.
Washington could do naught but listen; listen painfully and make another incision once more, twice more, three times more, and carefully work the leather through them, his hands slick with the blood of the boy but managing their tasks well enough.
How right that your hands are covered in his blood.
They were horrid, crude things, the stitches, but they would have to do until they could get home. So George rode, he urged the horse with everything he had, knowing that unless he could make a day’s ride in half that his son was sure to die.
Washington was not one to give up. They kept their fastest speed through the hours, one hand pressing Alexander against him as well as putting pressure on his wound, the other holding the reins of his horse.
He might’ve cried if he were not so tired, because ahead he could see his camp. His men would be at alert from the hurried hoofbeats but they knew him and his horse, they would be fine. Hamilton would be fine.
The first thing they tried to do when his horse finally stopped in the middle of the regular camp commotion that quickly turned to panic was take Alexander from him.
Despite being exactly why he rode so hard and so long Washington found himself tightening his grip on the boy, looking at the men with wild eyes and wondering how many of them he could trust not to murder his aide, who had done nothing but be loyal to him to deserve it.
Then, Lafayette was there, pushing the men away in a placating way, his hand raised towards George as he slowly stepped towards him.
“Your Excellency,” his accent was soft, it was familiar. He was one of Hamilton’s friends… “Alexandre needs help, yes?” He took one more step towards his commander. “You two were attacked, yes?” Washington stiffly nodded, wondering why he could not let the boy go.
Because if you do he’ll die, and it will be your fault for letting it happen, a voice supplied.
“I see… I won’t let anything happen to le petit lion, Your Excellency. I promise, but we need to let him see the doctors, yes? You did everything you could, I can tell, he’s alive because of you, but you need to let him go see the doctors now okay?” Again, a stiff nod, a tentative step, Gilbert was holding Alexander’s leg now.
So only George could hear he leaned in and whispered, “You are among comrades now, sir, and I give my word on my life nothing will harm him further here.”
The whispered assurances were enough to break the general from his trance, and he relinquished the grip on his aide, letting the boy slide into the Marquis’ arms.
Lafayette took him in one beat and hurried to hand the burden to another the next, giving quick instructions to the men.
“Take him to his chambre in the general’s quarters, infection might have already begun to set in and the infirmary will do nothing to prevent that.”
A chorus of “yes sir” echoed as he finished his instructions, the men hurrying to do what they could for their comrade.
It was then that Lafayette turned back to the general, who had stayed unseeing on top of his horse. He swayed slightly as Lafayette helped him down, his moves almost mechanical. The Marquis waved away the approaching men and medic, leading the general towards his quarters.
“He’s not harmed, he’s stricken,” he explained. “I will tend to him if needs be, but right now he must rest.”
The others nodded their agreement. George felt only the loss of the boy from his arms.
It was hours later when Washington woke up. He’d been mercifully granted reprieve from night horrors in his sleep, instead just finding oblivion.
He was panicked at first, believing himself to be back in that cell, until the familiar surroundings of his room overtook him in a sense of calm.
They’d made it.
“General Washington, you’re awake.” John Laurens’ voice startled the man, and he nearly bolted from his bed. “Oh, I’m so sorry Your Excellency, I did not mean to surprise you.”
The boy had warmed water from a kettle, and was slowly pouring some into a basin and some into a glass.
“Lafayette was in here for a whiles, tending you, but he wanted to see Alexander and I offered to take his place.”
At the sound of his boy’s name Washington once again jerked himself up.
“How is Alexander? What happened while I slept?”
“Sir please, you mustn’t move so quickly you will rip your stitches.” Laurens rushed towards him, a cup of tea offered as he checked George’s arm where he had apparently needed some stitches. Funny how pain can go disregarded when there was something much more important at stake.
It felt wrong to sip tea and have his wounds cleaned with a warm cloth when he still did not know the fate of his aide.
“Laurens.” That was his warning voice and they both knew it. “How is Hamilton?”
The boy paused and grew silent, almost troubled. A knot began to form in Washington’s stomach.
“He lives.” Laurens finally whispered, yet the words gave no comfort to the general. “For now, at least,” the boy saw the heartbroken countenance of his superior and knelt for him, abandoning his task.
“It was clear to the medics that he’d lost so much blood,” the boy began, his voice consoling yet not quite masking his own pain. This was Alexander’s best friend, he too must feel this loss. “It was because of you sir, that he made it home alive. They said that if you hadn’t done, what you’d done, then he would have bled out before you could get close to the camp.”
“But it wasn’t enough.” It wasn’t a question.
“The bullet,” Laurens continued, “it ripped apart his insides. Some of his organs were damaged, and he kept bleeding on the inside. The doctors did what they could, he’s sleeping now. It’s just- well, they don’t know that he’s ever going to wake up.”
Devastation washed over the general, all they had gone through, for nothing.
“I’m sorry.” Laurens stood, glancing back at the general with his own heartbreak, and began walking out the door.
“Laurens,” Washington called.
“Yes, Your Excellency?”
“I cannot express how sorry I am, I know how close you and Alexander, and his friends, are. Thank you for taking care of him.” And me, was the unsaid addition to the sentence.
“Twas my honour, sir.” When George next blinked, his second aide-de-camp was gone.
Hamilton stayed asleep for days, while Washington was up in one. How unfair the world could be.
The doctors began to worry about dehydration, starvation, and of course, the wounds. They did what they could to get nutrients and water in the boy, and still there was that danger looming in the horizon.
As much as he could, George stayed with him in his room, but he was still “George Washington” and he had duties, however alien they now felt to him.
It felt like he had to relearn everything about living. How to speak, move, think, it all felt wrong to him now. Things that were normal in the Before felt so out of place in the After. He didn’t want to live his life in the Before and After, but for now he seemed forced.
On the seventh day of their return, Lafayette sat next to George at Alexander’s bedside. Neither formally acknowledged the other’s presence, but fell into an acceptance of it.
“Monsieur Washington?” The Marquis finally spoke.
“We know that what you went through was horrid, and that you needed time, but we have to ask; what happened?”
George stiffened. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to think about what had happened at Arnold’s fort, and they wanted him to tell them?
Noticing the general’s body language Lafayette was quick to placate, he was quite good at that, wasn’t he?
“We understand if you’re still not ready. No one but you and le petit lion will ever understood what went on, but the doctor said that there was some indicators that he was tor-”
“Benedict Arnold. That’s what happened.”
“Arnold is a traitor, a spy. Hamilton discovered this and in turn we were both eventually held prisoner. We escaped from his fortress and rode till we were here. That’s all I will say now.”
“Oui, Votre Excellence. Je dirai aux autres ce qui s'est passé”
Washington wondered if the Marquis even realized that he was no longer speaking English, but forgive him for it nonetheless, it was quite a shock. He nodded and the Marquis left.
It was probably best he left as well, there were matter to tend to, demons to hide. The general stood, and as was his newest custom, leant over his boy and kissed his brow, softly whispering the same words into his ear as always.
“You are the strongest man I know, come back to me.”
He stood straight and took his first step away from Hamilton, jerked back by the softest of touches which might as well been a chain.
Hamilton’s hand had circled his.
It appeared that his son had finally listened to him.
So there it is, a little bit happier (a little bit, still very angsty) than previous chapters. They're home! That's a big gold star plus! But does that mean they're safe...?
You tell me. (In the comments would be wonderful *wink wink*)
But seriously I absolutely love each and every one of you guys who support me, that is my writing juice, for reals. So thank you so much for that, I truly appreciate it. I'm sorry if I can't answer your reviews as much anymore, I'll try my best!
Chapter 9: Trauma
Because happy endings never come to those who deserve it, even when they seem close enough to touch.
So this may be the most thoroughly researched chapter yet. (I mean, I did a lot of research on torture too, but this one takes the cake for having me search up all sorts of random shit.) Even though I did do some (googling) researching, I am no where NEAR close to accuracy (probably, idk, I know nothing,) in terms of the medical aspects of this.
It was a fun lil chapter to write, I admit.
And as always, I am so blessed for all the support that I get from you guys. Really, it just amazes me every time, I love each and every one of you and I cannot express enough how much it means to me that you guys enjoy this story. I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Despite the general’s initial elation, Hamilton was not completely out of the woods yet, so to speak. When he woke he was incoherent, breathily mumbling nonsense.
At first, George was terrified because Alexander was babbling nonsense and that must surely mean that an infection had set in. He tore at his shirt checking for the umpteenth time that the wound was not inflamed. It wasn’t.
The doctor explained the boy wasn’t comprehending the world around him, wasn’t seeing or hearing the same things that they were, but that it was quizzically not due to an infection. His best guess was that Hamilton’s mind and body were dealing with the excessive trauma it’d been put through and was sacrificing one to an unending fever dream to save the other. At one point Alexander believed he was back in his home on the island, dying in his mother’s arms.
“Mama,” he whimpered, curling into himself. “Please, my mama is sick, please, help ‘er…”
“I know Alexander,” George cooed, gently drawing his fingers through his aide’s matted hair. “I know, just rest now.”
George Washington was not one for public displays of sentiment, but he would happily abandon that notion for his recovering aide. He had tried leaving, once, when Hamilton had been in his wakened but incoherent state.
“Fath’r…?” George froze as if he’d been struck, turning back to where Alexander seemed like he was looking at him. (Hamilton never truly ‘saw’ anyone anymore.) “Please, d’nt go, what did I do?”
George was back at his place in a second, his heart shattering in his chest. “I’m not going anywhere Alexander, not now or anytime soon.” The boy calmed and absently drew designs on Washington’s hand for about a half an hour before falling asleep again.
The doctor told them, warned them, that the chances of this scrawny, ripped apart, boy surviving were impossibly slim, even if it did look like he was beginning to recover. He wasn’t in his right mind yet, and if he took a fever they had no supply of medicine to help him through the nights. As it was, the boy had to endure the pain of his wounds with nothing to dull it when he was awake.
“I d’nt feel well, please… h’rts.” Washington did his best to comfort him, taking his hand while he was awake and staying while he slept. George pleaded with Congress, Congress did nothing.
The doctor was, however, optimistic about Hamilton’s nutrient levels, now that he was awake. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), Alexander would not accept food from anyone else the way he would accept it from Washington.
There was one thing that you must never do, and that was to leave Hamilton alone. He wasn’t emotionally ready for that sort of abandonment, it would send him into a frenzy. Laurens understood why, Hamilton had spent the majority of his life losing one person after the other, and now that his mind was… broken, he regressed to that childlike mindset.
Word got around camp that the general had been neglecting some of his duties in order to care for his injured staff, but few were so unwise as to voice complaint to it. Unbeknownst to the general, Aaron Burr, John Laurens, and the Marquis de Lafayette were managing his tasks when they were not sitting with Alexander themselves.
Aaron Burr knew enough from his time under General Montgomery to manage the strategy side of things well enough, seeing as there were no attacks incoming or outgoing. Laurens had been the general’s aide for more than a month and a half and simply resumed his duties as such. Lafayette managed all the messy business of aristocracy and formality.
Together they almost made one full Hamilton.
Even though they had all been warned how unlikely it was that Alexander was going to recover, they were beginning to grasp their hope. They had a routine, and it was a broken routine, pivoting on their recovering friend, but it was a routine.
Washington, though he fought against his better nature to do so, began allowing Alexander’s friends to care for him some days while he rested or did work. The war wasn’t over just because he felt his life was.
In the night George would write letters to his wife, taking comfort in her soothing replies as he tried to banish the visions of the night.
He wasn’t the only one. Laurens or Lafayette would wake with a scream; blood and burning flesh clear in their minds, mixing with the scent of alcohol and muffled screaming. Burr and Mulligan always calmed them, learning to sleep lightly and be quick lighting their candles.
Everyone noticed their aversion to drinking after the incident, but all knew not to comment on it. Only the doctor, his assistants, Laurens, and Lafayette had seen the surgery performed, but most of the camp had been near; near enough to hear the pained screams or the sobbing that followed.
At the request of Hercules, Burr moved into the residence with the others. He was a great help, even if just as reserved, and quickly learned where he fit into their small group.
It had been two weeks since Hamilton had first shown signs of life when it happened…
Laurens had been filling the basin full of water for his friend’s wounds when he saw his friend begin to move from the corner of his eye.
This in itself was no miracle. Two weeks ago it had been, but now his friend could move his arms and head fairly well on his own. The miracle laid in his words.
“John.” He smiled, his eyes focused on John. “It’s good to see you.”
The water pitcher dropped. John Laurens stood frozen in the puddle it created.
Alexander tried sitting up but crumpled back down with a yelp, one hand clutching his stomach. His breathing deepened as he tried to manage the pain his wounds brought him, but his eyes did not glaze and he stayed silent to preserve his pride.
It was so characteristically Hamilton that John felt tears begin to form as he rushed to the side of his friend.
Alexander felt gentle hands remove his own from the burning in his gut, and felt the cool breeze attack his skin as his shirt was lifted away as Laurens checked the wound.
He groaned, pushing his head back into the bed and clenching his hands in the sheets. He was so coherent. “I guess I was wounded?”
“Yes Alexander,” his voice cracked with emotion, “you were.”
“My dear Laurens,” Alexander’s hand grasped his friend’s, “why do you weep?”
“My dear Alexander, I weep because you are speaking to me.”
“Laurens, if my conversation is a reason to weep I can bring myself to remain silent.” He was jesting, and they both knew it, and yet Laurens sobbed.
“I haven’t spoken to you in weeks Alexander. Do you remember anything?”
His friend moaned again, his face clenching in pain. “I might be more inclined to remember if not for this agony in my gut. Is there anything…?” Alexander knew the answer before he finished the question. Especially after he took in John’s pitying glance.
“No, I’m so sorry Alexander. They ran out of opiates nearly a week before you arrived.”
“I thought as much,” he laughed, albeit pained. “Never fear my dear Laurens, I can do this. It’s just a little,” Alexander tried to move again and yelped, grinning sheepishly at his friend, “pain.”
“I’d even give you whiskey if I could but the doctor advised against it.”
“How disagreeable of him.”
And finally, John smiled and laughed, unable to hold it back at the joke. Despite his desire to cheer his friend, Alexander was burning with questions. (And a gunshot, apparently.)
“Now that I’ve coaxed a smile from my best friend, would you tell me what has happened?”
Laurens once again sobered, his eyes becoming far away. “You arrived wounded with Washington a little over three weeks ago.” Hamilton’s eyes bulged, how could it have been so long? “You had been shot, and you’d lost a great amount of blood.”
“Washington. I was with Washington.”
“Yes, you were.”
“How does he fare?”
“His injuries were not of alarm, he retains a tender shoulder, and he needed a few stitches but he is fine.” Hamilton relaxed at that, nodding slowly as he racked his brain for the memories that he could feel but never touch.
“They operated on you.”
“Dammit, Laurens hold him down!”
“It was long and difficult, you had already almost bled out.”
“Bring me a hot iron rod!”
“They took the bullet out, but it had utterly destroyed one of your organs. They had to take it out.”
“They removed one of my organs!?”
“We were assured it was not one that you needed. You would’ve died otherwise, you were… well, the organ was dead inside of you.”
“How had I not died before then?”
Laurens let out a half laugh half sob, “Washington had given you emergency stitches using a horse’s saddle buckle.”
Alexander remembered an almighty pain ripping through him as he was jostled by a horse’s gallop. He gritted his teeth against the pain that almost matched it.
“Infection?” He wasn’t sure he could manage any more words than that.
“No,” Laurens smiled again, his eyes still far away. “It was really quite amazing, Alexander. Almost the whole camp volunteered their alcohol for your use, to ward away the infection.”
“Hah, I must have been grave indeed if these men could bear to part with their whiskey.”
“You were. They were almost sure that you wouldn’t survive.”
The weight of those words settled in the room.
“And yet here I am.”
“And yet here you are,” Laurens breathed, grasping Alexander on the shoulder. “I have been selfish, I should have called the others immediately when you…” Became you again? “I’ll just be gone for a few minutes, will you be alright?”
“Laurens, while I enjoy your company I am not dependent on it.”
The former let out a breath, smiling towards the floor at his friend’s words. “Of course,” he replied, his voice tight with… something, “I’ll just be a minute.”
He left and Hamilton was left with the overwhelming feeling that he had missed something.
“Sir?” George looked up from his desk where he had most definitely not been nodding off, seeing John Laurens stationed at this doorframe.
“Yes, Laurens?” He was too tired to hide the exhaustion in his voice.
“Alexander is awake sir.”
George almost groaned but stopped himself with a pang of nausea ripping through him. It was his fault that his aide was in such a state and he had the audacity to moan about it? How dare he? It was a miracle that the boy still lived and here he was wishing it was not in the only manner he could. He was just tired.
“I see, I will tend to him for the next few hours. You may rest.”
“No sir, not like that,” John replied.
For a second Washington let hope blossom in his chest, and the world suddenly seemed much more in focus as the lethargy left him.
“Alexander woke up completely coherent, he is with the doctor now. He is fully responsive, and aware.”
Washington was out of his place and hurrying for Hamilton’s quarters in a blink of an eye, but Laurens was expecting that and watched with a smile as the older man skid to a halt outside of his friend’s rooms.
Washington took a wild, desperate, gasp of air as he braced himself against the frame of the door, watching as the doctor checked over Alexander.
They were talking.
Alexander was talking with the doctor. He was awake. He was lucid. And then, he was turned towards him and he was looking at George.
“Your Excellency,” Alexander said with a smile, grimacing a bit as he strained his wound. “I hear we had an eventful visit.”
George let out the breath of air that he had been unconsciously holding and rushed into the room, kneeling next to his aide, gracing his first real smile in weeks. God, he’d missed that smile.
“You don’t know how wonderful it is hearing you again, Alexander,” George remarked with a laugh.
“Funny, Laurens started crying when I spoke so I might have thought it was not so wonderful.” Laurens blushed and Hamilton smirked and Washington knew that he could have stayed in this moment for forever; life didn’t feel so alien anymore. Not with his wonderful boy grinning and quipping and even grimacing in silent pain beside him.
“Anyone would start weeping at your incessant chatter, mon ami,” Lafayette added, his own content smile brightening his features. His other friends laughed, all gathered in a group like old times.
Alexander faked a scoff, looking between his friends in mock betrayal. “Excuse me,” Hamilton started with playful hurt, “but I am the one laying wounded and you all decide to attack my vernacular? How terribly rude.” He finished with a smile and the playful light behind his eyes that might have brought tears to George’s eyes.
“Not your vernacular but your penchant to run your mouth, sir,” Burr added goodheartedly, he was glad to see Alexander truly awake. He never had the gentle touch that Laurens or Washington had with his friend, nor Hercules or Lafayette’s ability to find conversation in anything; still, he sat with Hamilton, often reading to him, and felt the loss of the man as if he was already dead.
“And did you nurse me as well, Burr? Never fear, I will tell no one your secret.”
“And what secret is that, sir?”
“That you might just have a heart under that reserved facade.”
Before anyone thought of a reply the doctor cut in, finished with his patient at last, “Mr.Hamilton, you may be the luckiest person I have ever become aquatinted with. Wounds like that send most men to their graves, yet despite all odds, I am optimistic in your recovery.”
“They hurt like hellfire, doctor,” Hamilton replied, struggling to sit up on his elbows. “I’ve not yet seen them, perhaps-”
“I would advise against you examining your wound site right now, Mr. Hamilton. I could not stitch it together until I was sure your internal organs were in no danger of becoming damaged again, and I had to conduct almost daily drainages of the wound. Stitches would have increased the risk of infection, of which you have been mercifully spared.”
All five men who had tended Alexander had been given this same speech, but still winced slightly at its mention. Alexander’s wounds were… well, you never got used to seeing something like that.
“Stitching me posed more of a risk than letting my wound sit open to any infection that might make its way through?”
“It did, yes.” The doctor was completely unfazed by Hamilton’s smart replies and cheeky attitude, just like a certain general. “Now, however, that you have regained some mobility, and I am adequately pleased with your wound’s progress, I believe it best that I give you proper stitches, and try and get this wound healed once and for all.”
All present sighed in relief at the news, except for George who couldn’t banish Alexander’s screams as he plunged the buckle through his skin. Hamilton noticed his commanding officer’s eyes become lost, and subtly took the hand that had grasped his shoulder giving it a small squeeze.
Washington met his eyes and nodded gratefully, focusing for a moment on just the boy in front of him and not the excitement behind him.
Hamilton had looked like a child since the moment he met him, but he had never looked so broken than in the last few weeks. Now, when he met his son’s eyes he saw the man he’d grown to love like any father should love their children; he looked whole.
Unnoticed by the pair the other’s cleared away from their friend’s quarters, all glancing at their commanding officer and friend with knowing smirks as they crept away. There was plenty of time for celebration later, but Washington and Alexander may not have many chances to have this conversation.
“What do you remember,” George finally asked, still holding Hamilton’s hand in his own.
“Not much,” the boy answered, “flashes, feelings, enough to count my blessings that I don’t remember for the moment.”
The general hummed, falling into silence as he so often did nowadays. There was an unmistakable pang of jealousy that whipped in his breast, that Alexander could wake up and simply be himself again when George knew that that would never happen for him.
“That you’re awake is such a miracle, Alexander. You’ve no idea.” George wasn’t sure he would have survived if Hamilton did not.
“If not for you I would not have survived the ride back, I’m told.”
“I wasn’t going to let you die,” the sincerity behind George’s words startled the boy, who wasn’t sure what had been reality and what had been a fevered dream.
“It’s amazing that they could take a dead organ from my body and yet I live to tell the tale,” he replied instead. His hand slipped from Washington’s hold.
“Science and medicine are always progressing, I suppose.”
A nod was all he received in reply, but Alexander was still smiling it mustn’t be too bad.
“Do your wounds give you much pain?”
“Not so much that I cannot bear them, sir.”
“Sir? That’s a bit formal,” Washington joked, but could not completely hide the slight nervousness from his voice.
“I apologize, it’s just…” Hamilton trailed off, searching for words that he couldn’t find. “Like I said, I can’t remember everything, most things really, not after the first few days in Arnold’s base. Lafayette and Laurens explained what happened here, but you’re the only one who knows what happened in that time that’s lost.”
“I’m not the only one Alexander.” Washington could not bring himself to accept that Alexander wanted him to tell him about all that had been done to him. He wouldn’t.
“I don’t remember and everyone else there would surely kill me before I could ask,” the boy argued back, and George recognized the achingly familiar anger in his voice. “I deserve to at least be told how I ended up half dead with a bullet tearing apart my insides.”
So much blood, too much blood, everywhere
“Your memory will return in time.”
Frustration bubbled in Alexander like a kettle ready to boil, coupled with his inability to move at all and what little he could recall. He just wanted answers. He deserved to know, it wasn’t just the general who had to live through it. At least the general knew what he was living through.
“That isn’t good enough,” he ground through his teeth, trying desperately to keep his temper in check. “I’m told that I was awake for two weeks, not myself, broken, and I want to know what was so bad that my mind shut down.”
“Alexander please.” Washington moved away from the bed, beginning to pace at the foot. “I can’t talk about this right now, I won’t. Just give me time and maybe I’ll-”
“I remember the first day that they tortured me…”
Washington stopped in his tracks.
“I saw Arnold’s sigil, and recognized it as the code I was breaking. He had come into my rooms before you arrived, he knew that I knew what it was,” Alexander’s voice was low and dangerous, not at all how he used to explode when anger got the better of him.
“I cut my hand on the glass that he’d dropped,” the boy went on as if he hadn’t noticed he interrupted Washington, “and he hurt me right in front of you, and I knew when he tried to take me that he was going to kill me. Maybe not then, maybe in a little while, but it was going to happen.”
“I know, but-”
“You let him take me,” he hissed. “They forced my hand into a basin of alcohol and drowned me over and over and over again, I screamed for someone to help me, for you to at least look for me.”
“Well,” he spat, “you know the rest.”
“I’m so sorry-”
“I can remember all of that,” Hamilton’s voice raised as he shot his gaze upwards and locked it with Washington’s wide one, “but what happened afterward was too much for my mind? It was worse than that?” He scoffed, a short, angered thing. “I may not know what happened but from what I do know I can make an assumption that whatever it was, you let it happen, just like you did before.”
The moment the words left his mouth Alexander regretted them.
Washington froze, still locked into Hamilton’s stare, and let the words wash over him like ice cold water. They may as well have been a bullet of their own. He only stayed like that a few seconds, before turning and leaving Alexander’s quarters without a word.
“No, wait!” Alexander tried sitting up but collapsed back against his sheets with a cry of pain, his gut shooting fire throughout his veins. “I didn’t mean- I’m sorry!”
But Washington was already gone, and so Hamilton finally let his tears loose.
I know what Hammie said was cruel, but all I'll say is that every single person deals with trauma differently. Some people carry it very visibly, while some appear perfectly fine until they are triggered by something.
They've got a long way to go, but they'll get there. (Eventually.)
And I mean, the war isn't exactly over yet either, they've got a lot of other things (like surviving) to worry about too. I'd love to hear what you all thought of this more mentally focused chapter, all your theories of what you think is coming next (I'll even verify them if you get it right), and any suggestions you have for past, present, or future chapters.
(One last thing, I did look this up, they could in fact remove a spleen by the 1700s, survival rate was just... not very high when they did it.)
I love you all and thank you so much for all your support!
Chapter 10: Introspection
In which Hamilton and Washington are very much NOT coping.
Lafayette and Laurens wish they could make everything better, but unfortunately all they have is bread and water. Sigh.
Holy shit I'm so sorry this took so long. (Excuse my French, literally, there's some French in this and I AM SO NOT FLUENT)
I was just really not motivated to write this chapter, I was on summer hols, and then I was working, and then school, and etc etc Long story short, during said school assignments I was procrastination and boop, another chapter was born. Albeit a bit boring, maybe, idek anymore guys.
Please enjoy the chapter though! Thanks so much for all the support throughout the (way too long) hiatus.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was a long while before Hamilton could will himself to try and move again. By then the fire had grown cold in his room and his aches had settled into his very bones, but it was the anguish he felt inside that was the cause of his misery.
How could he have said something so terrible to his commanding officer? To Washington?
Something had clearly gone horribly wrong at Arnold’s fortress, something they nearly both perished for. Alexander couldn’t remember it but he could feel it inside of him, the wrongness. It ate him from the inside, as sure as that bullet had, and he had no clue why.
It was this frustration that drove him to attack the general, and how he regretted it. He must be a truly wretched person to lash out at the one man who had given him all he had to give, who saved his life, who gave him a life to begin with.
God, he was so, so, sorry. Washington would hate him now, he would lose what little they had.
(Little? More now? He didn’t know. Maybe if he remembered, he could.)
How had things been before the fortress? Better. They had been better. How had they been before Washington had taken him in…?
Maybe in the end all he was meant to be was a filthy bastard.
He moved his shoulder first, shifting his weight until he was laying back on his back. Then it was his toes, his fingers, his neck; such little movements should not have felt as great of achievements as they seemed.
It was well into the night when he sat up on his own, to the extreme protest of his gut. Even he was not stupid enough to try and stand, not with a gaping wound that had yet to be sewn.
If he could, he would sprint to Washington’s chambers and demand an audience. He would repent and ask, no beg for forgiveness, undeserving as he might be of it.
For now all he could do is sit and watch the embers die in the hearth, and let the wrongness eat away at him.
Washington’s alcohol had not been touched when Alexander needed it. Half-way through said alcohol George thought that that might be symbolic of something.
Every man in the camp gave and gave and gave and tried to keep that boy alive and healthy while his sat untouched.
And Heaven knew that he was no superior than Alexander Hamilton, God no. He was so far below.
Hamilton did nothing but protect and obey and Washington had done nothing.
Washington had shed little blood while Alexander had watered the gardens, he had given up and resigned Alexander to his fate to the point that Alexander had to save them both under much higher stress than George.
Arnold had been right, he was a coward. Better yet, he’d been right on two accounts, because Washington loved that boy like a father and it killed him to see the fury and the hatred that flashed inside of his irises.
But that was his right. It would only amplify when his memory came back; George selfishly prayed it would never.
Hamilton could hate him for the rest of his life, it would not be a slight to Washington. He was right after all; he had allowed him to be harmed, tortured, for days.
He could not hide behind ignorance, for had Alexander not told him that first night? Yet he had waited, waited until he was slipped a drugged drink and was forced towards that room (blood blood, blood, so much blood, and screams. Oh God, I’m so sorry, please, stop, please, please please, please) and Alexander paid the price.
He had yet to hold a pistol without going back to that place with Alexander closed-eyed and weeping, anticipating the shot (his shot) that would end him.
What father held a gun to their son’s head before their own?
“Bonjour mon ami,” Lafayette greeted the next morning, stirring Alexander from what little sleep he’d gotten. “I have brought you bread that has been…” he stopped, and Hamilton smiled slightly as his friend wracked his brain for the word in English.
“Warmed,” Hamilton suggested, smile growing as Lafayette’s eyes widened in excitement.
“Mon ami, have you spent your entire months earnings on this? I did not know the camp had any bread to spare,” Alexander asked, gratefully accepting the offering.
“Ah, I figured you deserve it after terrible injury.”
The (former?) aide took a bite of the bread, closing his eyes in appreciation. “Merci, mon ami. It is delicious.”
“Well I am very glad Alexandre. Mais pourquoi le feu est éteint?”
“Hm? Oh, it must have gone out in the night at some time, I did not notice it mon ami.”
“You will catch a sickness,” Lafayette chided, “a groom that goes into his wedding unwell does not have a well marriage.”
Hamilton grunted in response, trying to push himself up again. “I have not heard that one before. Is it French?”
“Non, c’est ma mère,” Lafayette impishly replied, pouring the warm water into the basin with a smile. Alexander laughed and took another bite of his bread.
“Your mother must be very wise.”
“Oui, she was.” The mood of the room dampened slightly at the mention of dead mothers, but Hamilton quickly recovered.
“I realize I have been a terrible betrothed, what of my Eliza?”
“She is understanding Alexander, you were not well. John wrote her every week, though she wrote double that, and told her you were not well enough yet to be seen, and gave her updates. We knew you would not want her seeing you like that.”
“That is good, thank you for that. I don’t want her burdened with this,” Alexander blushed, much to Lafayette’s amusement. “I was so nervous when I went to propose, I had her father’s blessing but I was… speechless when I went to her.”
“She must be truly an amazing girl to render the great Alexander Hamilton speechless,” Laurens interrupted from the doorway.
“Ha, ha. Though, she is, and she said yes, which is more than you can say for yourselves as bachelors.”
Lafayette and Laurens both mocked at being hurt with grins on their faces, enjoying the light banter they used to experience with Hamilton return.
“Your words cut deep, Alexander. If Cupid’s bow had not struck so resoundingly you would be no better,” Laurens laughed, taking the now empty plate from his friend and sitting at his side.
“Yes, how will you abstain from your flirtatious ways as a married man?” Lafayette joined, enjoying how Alexander seemed to go redder and redder.
“I will with love in my heart for my wife.” Alexander finally defended himself, weakly pushing at Laurens. “I feel like some privileged upper classer, having you all flit about for me.”
“It’s no trouble Alexander.” Hamilton grinned gratefully at his friend, enjoying their company while all the while wondering if he should mention his and Washington’s conversation.
Lafayette soaked a cloth in the basin of warm water, advancing on his friend to wipe away the night’s sweat and grime, as was the routine for the past month.
As soon as the damp cloth touched his forehead however, Alexander took a terrified gasp of air and pushed Lafayette with all his might away from him.
“No!” His eyes were crazed and had that not here glaze to them that they had just recovered from. His breaths came in pants and his arms struggled against some unknown foe; he was absolutely terrified and both men could see it.
“Alexander, Alexander!” Laurens tried to calm him down, rushing to ground his friend. “Don’t do this again, come back now. You’re safe, you’re safe and they’ll never hurt you again. Okay? You’re safe, at the home camp with me, and Lafayette and Burr and Hercules and Washington.”
This want on for a while, after the initial shock wore off Gilbert also joined Laurens in calming his friend down. He prayed to God that he had not just sent his comrade back to wherever he had been before.
Eventually Alexander went to sleep, but both men were unsure if he had come back or not.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t- I did not mean for that-”
“Gilbert, you have nothing to be ashamed or sorry for. Alexander and the general went through something hellish, I’ve seen this with other soldiers, these are just episodes that may happen for a whiles yet. They are triggered, but no ones fault but the human mind. You have nothing to apologize for.”
Shakily, Lafayette nodded and left, muttering in French before announcing that he would fetch the doctor.
Once his friend was gone Laurens allowed the worry to wash over him as he glanced at his sleeping friend. He too prayed to God that he had not just lost him again.
He left the chambers and glanced hesitantly towards the general’s rooms. The man should probably know…
Reluctantly he crossed the corridor and knocked against the general’s door, opening the door slowly and peering inside.
The first thing that struck him was the smell, it absolutely reeked of whiskey and smoke. The second was the sight of Washington bent over something in front of the fire, his empty decanter and depressed form leaving no room for imagination on what had occurred through the night.
Washington looked up at the noise Laurens made while coming in, wishing he could care at the sight he made but still falling flat.
“I’m sorry sir,” Laurens stuttered out, bowing his head and moving to leave, “I should not have-”
“At ease solider,” Washington dismissed, languidly staring at the dead hearth. “What has brought you into my personal chambers?”
“Alexander sir, there was something wrong.” At this Washington jumped to attention, his eyes wide as he internalized Laurens’ words.
“He had some sort of fit, like before, when Lafayette went to wash his forehead.”
Washington placed his face into his hands, knowing exactly why Alexander reverted.
“Is he back now?”
“I do not know sir, he only fell asleep, Gilbert and I could not tell if he was still…” Voicing it made it real and neither man was ready for that just now.
“Thank you for telling me Laurens,” Washington broke the terse silence, “I ask you to keep me updated with his condition. Tell Hamilton that as soon as he feels fit I’ll gladly have him back on my staff.”
George could see the confusion in Laurens’ face, could see that he had a question he was too afraid to voice, but he would not explain himself.
Laurens merely nodded and let him be, no doubt to discuss the conversation with the Marquis. It would be noteworthy, Washington supposed, his sudden distance from the boy.
If the mere presence of a cloth gave him an episode however, Washington did not want to fathom the trauma he would experience at his presence.
He’d done enough to Hamilton to last a lifetime.
In fact, ironically, he’d almost stolen it.
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