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you knock me out, I fall apart

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Washington would like to say that he knew the truth from the moment he saw Alexander Hamilton, but the truth was, he didn't. Nor the day after that, or the day after that. It wasn't until the topic of Hamilton's parents came up in a casual conversation between the young aide-de-camp and the Marquis de Lafayette that Washington's attention was drawn to the Caribbean, because he said that he came from Nexis in the Caribbean, and that his mother's name was Rachel Faucette. He refused to speak of his father's name, but Washington did not need the name of Alexander's father – he already knew.

Oh boy, did he know Rachel Faucette. She was a relentless spirit, not unlike Alexander himself. In retrospect, he wondered how he could have ever missed the similarities.

He didn't say anything. He wanted to, but Hamilton made it explicitly clear that he did not desire any kind of relationship with him other than a purely professional one. Besides, what purpose would it serve except create chaos and disloyalty in their ranks? If his soldiers believed that Alexander had advanced through the ranks due only to his parentage, Washington's command, and, therefore, their chances of winning this war, were doomed.

Faced with the choice between his son or winning a war, George Washington made a choice.

Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my Dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by action rather than words, to convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you that ’till you bade us Adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to set upon you.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Washington knew that there was something more to his son's relationship with Colonel Laurens than was strictly appropriate, or even lawful. He could see the closeness between Hamilton and Laurens, the way their touches lingered just a tad too long to be considered mere comradeship, the way Hamilton gazed at Laurens with the exactly same look Washington knew he adopted whenever Martha walked into a room.

Not once has the word 'sodomy' cross his lips. How could it? He could see that it was not physical urgency or necessity that existed between his son and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens, the one that was inevitably found in soldiers, lonely as they were, but something more intimate. Washington realized with a pang of wistfulness that the emotions he saw on Alexander and John's faces whenever they looked at each other and thought that nobody was watching, the way they zeroed in on each other even in a crowded room, the lingering touches that might be perceived as comradeship but were most certainly not, were the very same gestures that he was sure mirrored on his face when he was in Martha's presence. That smile Alexander gifted John with, the one that was meant for John and John only, was the very same George shot at Martha.

This was two people very much in love, willing to go against the world together if necessary, all just to stay together. Two people who felt safe in the other's presence and trusted each other implicitly, two people who would easily take a bullet for each other.

Two people who could not express their feelings openly, for said feelings were considered unlawful. Two people who must forever live in fear, hiding their feelings in terror of anyone finding out and condemning them for whom they dare fall in love with – as if it was a choice they made: to be evermore hunted and shunned. Two people who savoured what moments they could, who valued each other's love (which was more than what could be said for most marriages). Two people whose very lives were threatened by society, because they were upsetting the status quo.

In that moment, Washington decided that, no matter what, he would do everything in his power to give them the opportunity to remain together. He would protect the two, shelter them, provide excuses.

Washington has never had a child before, and now he had two. He felt helpless and in so much pain from simply considering what fear his boys must live under, but he also felt happier than he ever had before, surpassing even the day he married Martha – and all this even though, or maybe precisely because, he was fighting a war against impossible odds and an enemy more powerful than they could ever hope to be.

In a word, he had not a fault that I ever could discover, unless intrepidity bordering upon rashness could come under that denomination; and to this he was excited by the purest motives.

– George Washington about John Laurens


George Washington was a war general who has been in many a battle. He has seen horrible things, experienced unspeakable horrors, watched his men die because of orders he has given them, and knew that the deaths will weigh on his conscience until Providence decides to grace him with oblivion.

He thought he has known all-encompassing fear.

He hadn't. Not until now.

Captain Henry Lee delivered the news: they were retreating from the British, but Lee, Hamilton, and another few men were left by the shore of the river with a battalion of redcoats approaching their position. They fled back across the river on a boat under British gunfire.

Most of them escaped unhurt¹. Hamilton has not. He had fallen off the boat and had not resurfaced.

Washington dismissed Lee with a blank face, making sure that the other man was gone before he allowed himself process the news and break down.

His son was dead. That realization felt like being stabbed right through the stomach with a knife, then twisting said knife, and letting the wound fester.

“My son is dead,” he whispered. The words felt foreign in his mouth, so wrong wrong wrong. “My son is dead and I won't even be able to bury him because his body is at the bottom of the river and he hated water and swimming and now he is captured there for the rest of eternity. I can't even bury him–“ A sob shook through his body. “And even if I could, I will not be able to engrave his true name onto the gravestone because I did not speak up and claim him as mine.”

Washington sat alone in his tent, paralyzed with fear. The quill with which he has been writing a letter to the Congress laid abandoned on his desk, the missive only half-finished.

You will permit me to say that it is indispensable you should lend yourself to its first operations—It is to little purpose to have introduced a system, if the weightiest influence is not given to its firm establishment, in the outset.

– Alexander Hamilton to George Washington

After an indeterminable length of time, Washington heard a commotion outside. People were hollering, and he heard footsteps quickly approaching his tent. God, what was the matter this time? Couldn't they solve their bickering among themselves instead of coming to him with every small dispute? Could they not allow him just five minutes to mourn for his son? Of course not, they didn't know, because he has not told anyone.

The sight he was greeted to caused his heart to soar, and a cry of relief escaped his lips. The flap to his tent was unceremoniously pushed aside, and in burst Alexander Hamilton. His son was dripping wet from head to toe, but a grin adorned his face. Washington's heart almost burst with emotion. He had not even known how much he had relied on that grin until he had almost lost it.

“Sir, Your Excellency, I am afraid that there were some erroneous reports of my death, which, as you can see, were quite exaggerated,” Alexander said with a small mischievous grin.

“Hamilton– How–?” Washington found that he could not find the words to form coherent questions. He wanted to hug his son, but did not know whether he had the right. He abandoned Alexander in the Caribbean, to grow up in poverty while he has more than enough to provide for both Alexander and Rachel. Granted, he did not know of Alexander's existence, but that was no excuse to abandon someone after an affair in Washington's mind, brief though it may have been.

Alexander seemed to understand him nonetheless, for he scoffed and replied: “Scouts – they are always rushing with information, never checking its veracity. Sir,” he added for formality's sake.

There were so many, too many, things that he needed to say, so he settled instead on, “You are wet.”

Alexander grinned. “Well, sir, that is the result of taking an extended bath in the Hudson River, which, for the record, I would not recommend, because the water is freezing even though it is September.”

Washington reached out a hand and rested it on Alexander's cheek, partially to steady himself and partially to make sure that Alexander was really there, that it was not a vision or an illusion plaguing him. “My son–“ he began but halted. How did he phrase this? What did he even want to say?

Hamilton frowned. “With all due respect, Your Excellency, I am not your son,” he protested, taking a step back. Washington let his hand fall, both reassured of Alexander's existence, as well as wounded by the fact that Alexander always seemed to retreat whenever Washington thought that their relationship had progressed to a more intimate nature.

You don't even know how wrong you are, Washington wanted to respond, but stopped because–

Because what? He had just spent the past hours antagonizing over how he has not told his son of his parentage. Why was he hesitating now that he had the God-given opportunity? He had come to the realization: he could not stand the thought of Alexander dying without knowing that he was no Hamilton, that he had family that cared for him.

“You don't even know how wrong you are,” he settled on his first thought.

Something flashed in Alexander's eyes, though it was passed too quickly for Washington to be able to distinguish the particular emotion. “What do you mean, sir?” Alexander's tone was defensive, his stance shifting to tense.

Washington took in his son's state. He had started to shiver, it was inevitable that he would catch a cold or some other, more nefarious, illness. “Perhaps it is better that we continue this discussion after you have changed your clothing and are properly warmed,” he stalled the imminent dialogue.

“Respectfully, sir,” Alexander insisted in a tone that implied that he was anything but, “I would rather have the conversation now.”

“I will not risk a good soldier's life simply because he is too stubborn to care for himself.”

“I am an adult, and you, as my commanding officer, have no authority over how I treat myself in private, as long as it does not affect my service, which this won't. You know well that I work regardless of my body's condition.”

Washington sighed. He could continue to argue, try to out-stubborn Alexander or claim that he had the authority to order Alexander to care for himself, but in order to do that, he had to first justify why he deserved said authority, which he could only do if he proceeded with Alexander's request, thus his little dilemma. “Very well,” he caved in. “Take a seat.”

Alexander obligingly did, while Washington took the seat opposite him. For a moment, he was silent. Alexander's narrowed eyes studied his expression. “Sir, you said that I do not even know how mistaken I am,” he prompted. “What did you mean by that?”

Which led Washington back to his problem. How did one approach such a sensitive subject, made even more so by Alexander's refusal to talk about James Hamilton? “You said that your mother was Rachel Faucette,” he began.

Alexander nodded. “Yes, sir, but what does my mother have to do with any of this?” he questioned.

“Everything,” Washington replied wearily. “You see, I met one Rachel Faucette while I was traveling the world after my defeat at the hands of the French. I sought oblivion, as did she, and we provided comfort to each other.”

For once, Alexander did not speak. When Washington chanced a glance at his aide-de-camp, he saw that Alexander was staring at him with undisguised incredulity. “Sir, are you saying that you slept with my mother?” he eventually asked. Washington nodded and let Alexander's sharp mind draw its own conclusions. He did not have to wait long. “Are you implying what I think you are implying, sir?” Alexander continued with clear anger in his voice.

“I am implying – nay, declaring – that my concern for your well-being does not stem from the fact that I am your commanding officer, but is, in fact, of a more familial nature.”

Alexander processed this information. He abruptly stood up. “Excuse me, Your Excellency, but I believe that I will retire for the evening.”

Washington did not know what alarmed him more – Alexander's uncharacteristically evasive words or his too even voice. “Alexander,“ he began. He has never had a way with words, and if he had ever needed eloquence, it was now. Washington did not know where Alexander got his eloquence from – it was not from Rachel who, despite being a fierce spirit, was a woman of few words. It certainly wasn't from the general himself. Maybe it was a trait that was uniquely Alexander. “Please listen–“

Alexander cut him off. “I do believe that we have concluded all business that needs tending to for the day, Your Excellency. If that is all…?” he asked pointedly, in a tone that brokered no argument.

Washington sighed. He could push Alexander, order him to stay, but it would serve no purpose save to further alienate his son from him. It was obvious that the younger man did not wish to discuss the matter of his parentage further, and, although it made him nauseous, there was nothing that Washington could do to change Alexander's minds. Besides, even if Washington ordered Alexander to remain where he was, there was no guarantee that Alexander would obey. He was notoriously rebellious, and, while it had served Alexander well in life, it did not help Washington with his current predicament.

“That would be all, Lieutenant Colonel,” Washington was proud of how steady his voice was.

Washington waited until Alexander left before he put his face in his hands and quietly mourned for the son he had never known and, it would seem, never would.

It is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attachments and to keep my happiness independent of the caprice of others.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Alexander left Washington tent, his thoughts swirling in a whirlwind. His emotions were in a turmoil. He held onto his impassive facade until he was safely back in the tent that he shared with John Laurens and the Marquis de Lafayette. Only there did he allow himself to let go, to consider the day's revelations, to feel. Feel the shock, anger, betrayal.

Eventually, his mind settled into a numbness that he should have found worrying but found comforting instead. It prevented him from really contemplating the situation in its entirety.

He realized that his clothes were still wet from his bath in the Hudson, though he was no longer dripping. He undressed himself and deposited his clothes on a thin line that the three of them had hung in their tent for exactly such a purpose – though they had never considered the scenario that one of them might be presumed dead while, in actuality, they had been simply taking an ice bath in a river while escaping the British, only to find out that their commanding officer was secretly also their father and yeah, not even Alexander could have conjured up such an unlikely scenario.

And yet here he was.

He took care not to wake John up as he crept into the bed he shared with the other man. John stirred but did not awaken – he was always a heavy sleeper, which was just as well, taking into consideration that Alexander was accustomed to working late into the night. Still, they took advantage of every moment alone that they were, however unwittingly, granted.

At this moment, however, Alexander found that he could not talk to John – his dear Laurens had always yearned for his father's approval, and could not grasp how Alexander had been shying away from any contact with his, as far as Alexander was aware, still alive father. John was unable to understand how Alexander's illegitimacy was an eternal source of embarrassment to Alexander, even more so now that he found out that he was not, in fact, James Hamilton's son, but that of George Washington.

In reality, he was not embarrassed to be George Washington's son, but was angry that his mother and he were perceived as inconsequential enough to be forgotten by Washington. Alexander was determined to prove himself worthy of any and all praises, and that he could accomplish anything without anyone's help. He didn't need any father, be it James Hamilton or George Washington – the man he had thought of as his father for his entire life had seen fit to rob him of that dependence.

The General & all the lads send you their love.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Alexander did not waste much time sleeping. As was his habit, he woke up before John – but, unlike most mornings, he did not wake John up and try to catch a moment alone as they were wont to do, mornings being the only time men were trusted to keep to themselves. Instead, he left the tent to alone consider last night's revelations.

Most people were not up yet, other than the night guard. Only the occasional soldier was loitering around the campfire, hoping to salvage something extra. The food was scarce, and so were the supplies.

That morning, there was one additional person making their rounds around camp – Lady Martha Washington, the wife of the General.

The wife of his father.

Alexander swatted away the thought, then reached out and grabbed it again. After all, was this not the very reason why he was braving the morning chill? He needed to handle his fickle emotions before they could start affecting his judgement.

Before Alexander could decide whether to talk to Lady Washington, she solved the problem by approaching him herself. He steeled himself for the conversation that was sure to follow.

“Lieutenant Colonel,” she greeted.

He bowed. “Lady Washington.”

She laughed. It was a nice laughter, very friendly. “Please, dear, there is no need for such formalities among family.”

Alexander stiffened. Lady Washington noticed it and touched his shoulder lightly. He recoiled visibly. Her expression became unreadable. Alexander took a deep breath, then let it out. “I do not wish to discuss it.”

She smiled wistfully. “On the contrary, my dear Alexander, I think that you do.”

It was like her words opened a dam inside him. He found himself spilling everything: how his childhood expectations for his father were gradually lowered until they essentially did not exist; how he never had anyone to rely on; how he felt betrayed by Washington's lack of interest in his life – and yes, he did understand that Washington did not know about his life in the first place; how he could only trust himself; and how he needed to prove his own worth and that he wanted to make something of himself regardless of who his parents were.

During his lengthy rant, Martha Washington said nothing, merely nodding and providing support.

“And really, what right did General Washington have to sleep with a married woman in all but law?” Alexander finished, quite red in the face from his internal tumult.

Martha sighed. “He did what he thought was right at the time. Or, at least, what he and your mother needed to do,” she said at length.

“Are you alright with the fact that your husband cheated on you, ma'am?” Alexander asked heatedly.

Martha smiled sadly. “He was not my husband at the time, Lieutenant Colonel,” she reminded him. “He was your father before he was my husband, though he was not aware of it, and he will always be your father first and foremost. Besides, if he had not met Mrs Faucette, you would not exist, and that is a thought I would rather not consider, young one. You are very dear to me, whether you realize it or not, and I cannot fault my husband if you are the product of their adultery.”

Alexander winced. “Milady, I really could have done without having the image of my mother having intercourse with the General permanently seared into my mind.”

The Lady grinned. “You asked the question. I merely answered your own inquiry,” she replied mischievously.

The two of them chuckled, momentarily lapsing into a comfortable silence. It was soon broken by Alexander. “What do you think I should do?” he asked helplessly.

Martha contemplated her next words carefully. “I think that you ought to do what you feel comfortable with,” she answered at length. “You should not feel forced to accept George as your father, but neither should you feel stifled into inaction by your stations. I know that, as his wife, I am supposed to always be on his side, but I do not think that either of you would enjoy a forced familial relationship. If push comes to shove, it is more wholesome for the both of you to reject your blood bonds rather than try to force them.

“That said, I would love to have you as part of my family in an official manner," she went on. "George loved you even before he found out that you are his son, since he has long seen you as the son he never had. It is something for you to consider when making this decision. Nevertheless, the final decision is yours to make,” she stood up. “I will see you later, Lieutenant Colonel.”

Alexander was once again left alone with his thoughts, even more unsure of how to react.

Should he resign? No, absolutely not. He has worked too hard to get where he was to let anyone, even his own father, deter him from success. Should he ignore Washington and continue to work with him as though nothing has been said? It might be awkward, but it was by no means impossible.

Should he try to bond with Washington and attempt to create a father-son relationship, or should he reject the general's attempts at a closer bond and pretend that this has never happened?

Alexander's mind ran in circles, always arriving at the same conclusion.

He made his decision and stood up. He had a general to visit.

You will be pleased to recollect in your negotiations that I have no invincible antipathy to the maidenly beauties & that I am willing to take the trouble of them upon myself.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Washington had barely gotten ready for the day when there was a tap against the flap to his tent. His mind quickly ran through the short list of people who might have some business with him at this hour. It could be an update from a British spy, though they usually waited until dusk to make their reports to him. It could be his wife, but he had already seen her this morning when he told her of the previous day's frankly disastrous conversation, and he doubted that she had returned from her rounds yet. It could be the Marquis, but if that was the case, the knocking would be accompanied by some French phrases that Washington would be unable to understand, never having learned the language.

Last, but certainly not least, it could be Alexander.

“Come in,” he called. His son entered. They watched each other, Washington with wariness and Alexander with trepidation. “Good morning, Lieutenant Colonel,” he greeted. “What brings you here?”

“Your wife,” Alexander was blunt and to the point. He did not elaborate.

“Oh?” Washington's curiosity was peaked. What could Martha possibly have said to affect Alexander so? “Do pray tell.”

Alexander shifted his weight from one foot to the other, looking decidedly uncomfortable. Washington wished he knew what was happening in his son's brain. It was magnificent, really, the crude sharpness of Alexander's intellect. “She presented to me a different way of viewing the situation. I am afraid that the details will remain between myself and Lady Washington, unless she sees fit to share them with you, which is likely, granted, considering that she is your wife, sir, but I would nevertheless never violate her trust by sharing something told to me in confidence and–“

Washington permitted himself a quick smile before stopping Alexander. Impulsive boy, his Alexander. Incredible, amazing Alexander. “As enjoyable as your story is, does it actually have a point?”

Alexander looked up at him, then shifted his gaze back to the floor. “I express regret for my behaviour concerning last night. It was horrendous and inexcusable, not befitting a true gentleman. Furthermore, I would like to have the opportunity to get to know my father," at this, Washington could hardly smother the smile that was threatening to overtake his face. "This, however, hinges on two conditions,” Alexander continued. "I want our connection to be kept a secret, and two, I will rise based on my merits and mine alone, not your family name. I have never needed it before, sir, and never will,” his son said defiantly.

Washington did not know how to react. It was simultaneously better and worse than what he had been expecting. “I would like to make you my legal heir, Alexander,” he stated plainly, putting an end to whatever tirade Alexander was about to launch himself into.

Alexander blinked, shocked. “But, sir, your wife–“

“I have already discussed it with her, and she agreed that it is only fair to bequeath to you my estate upon my death,” Washington's tone was final. He cracked a smile. "She is, however, quite fond of it, so should she be alive at the moment of my demise, I kindly request that you do not evict her from it."

Alexander, always the lawyer, already turned the idea over in his head, immediately recognizing the glaring problems with it. “That would mean that I would have to bear the Washington name,” he responded. “I am sorry, sir, but I have always been a Hamilton, and, while I mean no insult to your family name, I prefer my own. It is unmarred by any previous legacy.”

“Better a father with no legacy than a father with a bad one?” Washington mocked.

Alexander raised his palms defensively. “I did not mean to imply that I believe that your legacy will be bad, Your Excellency; quite the opposite, in fact. I simply mean that I would like to create my own, separate from yours. Besides, sir, what about your reputation if this were to be discovered?”

“My reputation can consider itself redundant,” Washington said, even as he knew that it wasn't quite that simple – at least, not yet.

Alexander voiced his doubts. “You need your reputation as an honest, courageous, and cunning man and general to lead this army,” he refuted efficiently. “You cannot throw away the fate of an entire country just for one man. If nothing else, I will not allow it,” he said stubbornly.

Washington sighed. “You will have your way, Alexander. For now,” he added in a tone that implied this conversation was by no means over. “Keep in mind that this offer will always be open to you.”

And finally, finally, Alexander grinned. “I will remember it, sir.”

Do I want a wife? No—I have plagues enough without desiring to add to the number that greatest of all. (...) Did I mean to show my wit? If I did, I am sure I have missed my aim. (…) I have gratified my feelings, by lengthening out the only kind of intercourse now in my power with my friend. Adieu.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Nothing really changed after that, at least not to the casual observer. Alexander was still working impossible hours, writing well over twenty thousand words a day if he had the time, and was seen leaving Washington's tent late at night. The difference was in what was going on inside the tent. Washington and Alexander still worked together on innumerable plans, but they also began talking about themselves, about their lives and experiences. They discussed their childhoods, comparing how they grew up.

Lafayette even remarked on this change between his two close friends. “I am happy to note, mon petit lion, that you seem to have resolved whatever issues you had with the General,” he said, his French accent thick. “It gladdens my heart, for it caused me pain to see my two close friends, how you say, dans une quarelle l'un avec l'autre.”

“Feuding,” Alexander supplied with a grin.

“Yes, feuding,” Lafayette said. “If I may be so forward, what happened?”

Alexander smiled. “Let's just say we realized that we had much more in common than we previously thought.”

Lafayette frowned. “Cela me dit absolument rien.

Alexander sighed. “I would like to tell you, but I'm afraid it is not my secret to tell,” he replied.

Lafayette threw up his hands. “That is what George said as well!” he groaned, frustrated. “If it is not your secret, and not his, then whose is it?” he asked.

Alexander frowned. “He said that?” he inquired.

Lafayette nodded. “Oui, he said that it was your secret and that if I wanted to know more, I had to ask you personally.”

Alexander grinned. “Well, in that case.”

He led Lafayette to a more secluded part of the camp and recounted, in soft French, the events from the other day. By the end of the story, Lafayette was smiling. “I am very 'appy for the both of you!” he threw his arms around Alexander, who tensed in surprise, then gradually relaxed into the embrace.

“We simply chose to pursue a familial relationship on top of our professional one,” Alexander cautioned, trying to temper Lafayette's enthusiasm.

Lafayette rolled his eyes. “Quand même, c'est bien que deux personnes qui méritent le bonheur autant que vous deux ont trouvé un réconfort dans l'autre.

“Well,” Alexander poked Lafayette's chest, “if nothing else, you are here as our comic relief.”

The truth is, our dispositions are the opposites of each other, and the pride of my temper would not suffer me to profess what I did not feel.

– Alexander Hamilton about George Washington

Alexander and he did not see eye to eye on all matters. For one, Alexander opposed slavery stronger than anyone else, save John Laurens, having had personal experience with slaves, and having seen the world from their point of view. He knew how it felt to be treated like less than a person, like the means to an end rather than someone that had their own dreams, hopes, and ambitions. He vowed to try to prevent anyone from feeling that way.

Washington, on the other hand, did not mind slavery – in fact, he supported it, passively though it may be, owning dozens of slaves at his plantation farm in Mount Vernon. He saw his slaves as living beings, yes, but not meriting the same rights as white people, as civilized people. When Alexander pointed out that, according that logic, Alexander himself might not be considered a person but rather a tool to be used and discarded once it became redundant, Washington became flustered. “It is different with you.”

“Why?” Alexander challenged. “Because I'm your son?” he mocked. “We both know that that argument is weaker than John's lies.”

“Because you are not black.”

“But neither am I really white,” he retorted. “What am I to be, then – a half-person? An object by day, a subject by night? You cannot have it both ways. You must ask yourself: do you see them as humans, or as manual labour? What kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to be a liberator, or an enslaver? For that is what you are. You, along with everyone else, forget what values we are fighting for: 'All men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' You are violating each of those rights by keeping your slaves. As your wife told me, it's something to think about.”

She received us so kindly, kissing us both, for the general and papa were very warm friends. She was then nearly fifty years old, but was still handsome. (…) She was always my ideal of a true woman.

– Elizabeth Hamilton about Martha Washington

In 1780, Alexander met Elizabeth Schuyler, and became clearly enamoured by her. Washington was curious as to what that would mean for his relationship with John. To his surprise, things did not change. If anything, Alexander became more open about his affections for John, and Washington was on the verge of having to reprimand them lest they wish to risk their careers and their lives. He was at a loss as to how Eliza Schuyler – or Betsey, as Alexander took to calling her – fit into his son's life, but it seemed to work for the three of them, and really, it was none of Washington's business, as Martha repeatedly said.

Eliza soon became a frequent visitor at camp, and Alexander shone with joy every time she came by. It did not escape Washington's notice that Alexander's would-be wife got on well with his own wife. Barely an hour into their acquaintance, the two women were already exchanging stories about their respective men, sighing about men's emotional constipation. Whenever Washington, Alexander, and John were busy, the two women could be found alternately helping hapless soldiers with their day-to-day life, inspiring confidence, or discussing literature.

I had barely hinted to you, my dearest Father, my desire to augment the Continental Forces from an untried Source … [The raising of black battalions would] … advance those who are unjustly deprived of the Rights of Mankind [and] … reinforce the Defenders of Liberty with a number of gallant soldiers.

– John Laurens to Henry Laurens

Washington was presented with a dilemma. The name of that dilemma? Aaron Burr.

Burr has a tendency to refer to himself in third person. It was presumptuous, in Washington's opinion. On the other hand, Alexander seemed to be fond of the man, if a tad critical of how Burr refused to commit to an opinion on any given matter.

Be that as it may, Washington had never been more grateful for the man than when John Laurens – no doubt aided by Alexander – decided to duel General Lee over a perceived slight to Washington's character. Burr quickly obeyed Washington's order to retrieve a doctor and took care of General Lee. It left Washington with the unfortunate duty of having to deal with his son. John Laurens he could send to South Carolina, lacking as they were in competent commanders, but Alexander was the one who had directly disobeyed an order from his superior.

It was moments like these that had Washington questioning whether Alexander had not been right when he raised the question of whether his judgement would become clouded due to their relation. Perhaps he had been too lax in his disciplinary actions.

He now had a chance to remedy that. “Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, meet me inside.”

For three years past I have felt no friendship for him and have professed none.

– Alexander Hamilton about George Washington

Once they were inside, Alexander did not stand at attention, but began fidgeting with his hands as Washington began pacing around the tent. "Son—"

The words 'I'm not your son' were on the tip of Alexander's tongue, but he could not force them out, since they would be a lie. Instead, he tensed up and stood perfectly still in front of the general. "Is it not a son's duty to defend his father's legacy?" he challenged.

Washington sighed, leaning back against his desk. He rubbed his eyes as he considered how to phrase his next words so that Alexander would understand. "It is not your place to protect my legacy. That duty is mine, and mine only. When you will be a father, you will not like for your son to have lost his life trying to defend your legacy. I do not want to risk my son's life simply because someone thoughtlessly insulted me. They are not worth it."

“It is my opinion that you underestimate the importance of your legacy, as well as the importance of an indisputable leadership."

"History will prove them wrong. In case you haven't noticed, I am busy waging a war."

"That is why I was standing up for you."

"Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, you have before publicly renounced me as your father, so you cannot now claim me and defend me. You cannot have the best of both worlds without also suffering the drawbacks of both."


"You have directly disobeyed my order when I have explicitly stated that General Lee is not to be challenged."

"Actually, Your Excellency, you simply said that I was not to—"

"This is exactly what I mean. How can I trust you not to go behind my back looking for loopholes in my orders every time I give you an order? You are dismissed."

"Sir—" Alexander tried.

"That's an order, from your commander," Washington emphasized the last word. Hamilton's disobedience was not amusing anymore.

Alexander looked like he was going to argue further, but one look at Washington's stony expression deterred him. He exited the General's tent without another word.

Washington sat down behind his desk. He really did not want to have had to do what he just did, ordering his own son — and he wasn't sure himself if it was a permanent order — but he was damned if his son committed the same mistake as he himself did years ago, missing the birth and childhood of his child — and, with the way Alexander was perpetually rushing into trouble, it was only a matter of time before he got himself killed.

I have still a part for the public and another for you; so your impatience to have me married is misplaced; a strange cure by the way, as if after matrimony I was to be less devoted than I am now. (...) I would invite you after the fall to Albany to be witness to the final consummation. My Mistress is a good girl, and already loves you because I have told her you are a clever fellow and my friend; but mind, she loves you a l'americaine not a la francoise.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

In the end, Washington had been forced to send for Alexander, at Lafayette's behest. He gave his son his much-sought-after command, and the newly-dubbed major general threw himself into battle with that unparalleled vigour, John Laurens at his side.

The battle was over in a week. The war was over in two.

Eliza joined them for celebrations. Washington surreptitiously took Alexander aside as his son's wife conversed in passable German with Baron von Steuben, who seemed to take a particular pleasure in charming the young lady, complimenting her on her looks and congratulating her on her impending motherhood.

“Does your wife know about your parentage?” Washington asked quietly, so as not to draw undue attention to their conversation.

Alexander scoffed. “Of course she does. It would not be fair to keep something so essential from her. We share everything.”

Washington raised an eyebrow. “Everything?” he intoned flatly. “Even John Laurens?”

Alexander choked on his drink, which drew the eyes of nearby individuals. Washington patted his back and waited until conversation resumed around them before he continued. “I know about you two, Alexander, and I do not judge you. I know that there are certain urges that arise during a war, and that men sometimes seek relief with each other. I also know that 'tis not such a bond which exists between you and Laurens. You are in love, almost obviously so. Were one of you a woman, people would not hesitate to call you the perfect couple.”

“Your Excellency–“ Though red in the face, Alexander had now regained control of his breathing and attempted to interrupt his father, but was shushed.

“I simply wonder whether Eliza is also aware of the affections you hold towards Lieutenant Colonel Laurens.”

Washington could see the exact moment when Alexander realized that there was no use denying any of what Washington had said, and that he would not be court-martialed for his transgressions. “Yes, sir, she is aware, and she accepts both myself and John and our previous relationship. Although she loves John only as a friend², she is supportive of our bond. If I may, sir, how long have you known?” his son asked suspiciously.

Washington hesitated. “For longer than I have known that you are my son,” he finally replied. “I have done all that I could to protect you as well as your lieutenant colonel, as I see him as a son also. I beg of you, do not let my efforts go to waste. Be careful, son."

Alexander blinked. For once, he looked to be lost for words. It was a moment Washington would cherish for the rest of his life. "Thank you, sir,” he eventually replied. "I will take care."

Without thinking, Washington placed a hand on Alexander's shoulder. He immediately regretted it, as Alexander had never been tolerant of physical contact between himself and Washington. However, to Washington's surprise, Alexander did not shrug it off, but leaned into the touch. “Is it not the duty of a father to protect his sons?” Washington asked rhetorically.

“I must admit, sir, that is an area in which I am woefully uneducated, seeing as I have not had a proper father before,” Alexander admitted.

Quit your sword my friend, put on the toga, come to Congress. We know each others sentiments, our views are the same: we have fought side by side to make America free, let us hand in hand struggle to make her happy.

– Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Alexander still refused to take on the Washington name, but he was much more receptive to a more intimate relationship with his father. Washington secretly, though with Alexander's knowledge and reluctant consent, named Alexander his legal heir in his will, on the grounds that he was Washington's son. When Alexander objected, saying that it would tarnish both their reputations, Washington replied that he really could not care less about his reputation postmortem, as long as Alexander was provided for, and that Alexander already had a reputation of being a bastard, so did it really matter whose bastard he was? No, it did not, and could Alexander please stop arguing because he is not going to change his mind. To this, Alexander responded by pouting and stomping out of Washington's study like the infant he was.

When, a few years later, Washington was asked to be president of their new nation, he did not hesitate to name Alexander Treasury Secretary. He struggled with creating and then passing his debt plan through Congress, but, though Eliza left to spend the summer with her family in their estate in upstate New York³, John remained to provide Alexander company. A week after Eliza had left, Alexander came to Washington, asking for his help with a Mrs Maria Reynolds, an unhappily married woman whose husband, to quote Alexander, was a morceau de merde (though Washington could not be certain what it meant, he had a sneaking suspicion that it was nothing complimentary).

Alexander found a fellow competitive spirit in the former French Ambassador, Thomas Jefferson. At first, the two got on quite well, even frequently dining together, holding in-depth discussions about a variety of subjects – sometimes in English, sometimes in French, and sometimes, if only to challenge themselves, in Latin. Jefferson played the violin, and Alexander could sometimes be found composing musical pieces for him to play. As time went by, however, and as Alexander began to polish his plan to assume the state debts, the differences between the two rivals became too great, and cabinet meetings turned from amiable debates into a metaphorical battlefield, with casualties ranging from the men's pride to, on one memorable occasion, two broken chairs and a shattered vase (Washington had never really liked that vase, so he did not overly mourn its destruction). Jefferson undertook an endeavour to oppose everything Alexander, and, consequently, Washington stood for, though it left Washington wondering how much of it was genuinely Jefferson's opinions, and how much of it the Virginian did simply to spite Alexander.

Fortunately, not all of Washington's fellow Virginians were as stubborn as Thomas Jefferson. James Madison, a former friend of Alexander, came to the conclusion that they could take advantage of the fact that Alexander needed their support to pass his debt plan through Congress, and bargained away their support in exchange for the nation's capital. Washington doubted that they realized that Alexander still got the better end of the deal, but he did not feel inclined to inform them of that fact.

Jefferson's open disobedience came to a head when Jefferson declared that he could not work under a man who was such a 'wretched fool and a marionette, play'd by Hamilton like a fiddle'. It nearly led Washington to dismiss him from his cabinet. Jefferson later left the cabinet voluntarily, but only to run for president; Washington never forgave him, and never spoke to him again.

When Washington resigned, Alexander did not hesitate to run for office against John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. John Adams won the majority, but Alexander became vice president, a fact which he proceeded to flaunt in front of Jefferson.

To Washington's utter lack of surprise and unending amusement, the peace between the president and his vice president did not last. Not even two weeks into the Adams administration, John Adams was found complaining about Alexander's Macbethian ambition and lack of morals. In retaliation, Alexander published a forty-page pamphlet about Adams' incompetency (An open letter to the fat, arrogant, anti-charismatic national embarrassment known as President John Adams, Washington had read and was torn between laughing and crying) and how Adams really had no grounds to complain about his work ethics (You never show up to work), which completely destroyed Adams' chances of re-election and, incidentally, set Alexander up as the only legitimate Federalist candidate for the next election. Alexander being Alexander, he also managed to insult Jefferson while he was at it. Jefferson raised the question of who the fuck thought it was a good idea that the person who comes in second gets to be vice president, because that would mean that the two highest officials in the country were, and will be, opponents and would not cooperate on anything. Alexander was remarkably silent on the issue, which Washington took to mean that he agreed with Jefferson but it would be a cold day in Hell before Alexander would admit it.

In the next election, Alexander and Burr, who remained by Alexander's side even after the war, went up against Jefferson and George Clinton, a long-time friend of Jefferson's. Alexander's loquaciousness, coupled with Burr's ability to speak for hours without saying anything of substance, ultimately secured them the election.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

– George Washington

At that point, Washington was barely hanging on to life, having been afflicted with an unknown disease which slowly sipped the energy out of him. He lived just long enough to witness his son's inauguration, his wife and closest friend at his side.

In reviewing his life, Washington could say that he made numerous mistakes, but an affair with Rachel Faucette had not been one of them. It was true that fatherhood caused indescribable fear, but the resulting happiness was well worth it. Alexander Hamilton was quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to him and to their new country.

George Washington closed his eyes with a smile.

Adieu, be happy, and let friendship between us be more than a name.

– Alexander Hamilton