AN: This is not completely historically accurate, though it's somewhat based on the truth. Please review and tell me what you think-this is my first original piece, and I'm kind of nervous. :D

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They say that the moment Alexander rode onto the plain it was over.

"Do not fear for your sons, your nephews, or brothers." We had been told. "Alexander may have conquered Greece, he may have taken Egypt, but what are they against mighty Persia?" We women of the harem had cheered and raised our glasses, confident that we would win.

Our troops outnumbered his three to one, and we were led my none other than Darius III, our wise and fearless leader. Who would ever dream of defeating Persia? Who would ever think they could match the riches, the strength, the glory of our great empire?

None but Alexander himself thought he could do it.

While we, the wives and concubines of Darius, rested languidly behind the harem walls, Alexander road across the plains and conquered the unconquerable.

They say he came at a gallop, flying over the hill as his troops pounded behind him. They say that for a moment, when the sun hit the metal of his helmet just right and struck his golden hair, he seemed to hold the power of the world. Sitting tall atop his black horse, he was the sun god himself, riding with a fury and death on his mind.

Our Persian soldiers, who had been so sure that they would survive today and celebrate tomorrow, saw him and felt the icy grip of fear around their throats. Their brave leader Darius III was somewhere in the middle of the formation, where he would likely not be harmed.

But Alexander, the barbarian, the general, the Sun God, he road at the front of his army like the legendary heroes from long ago.

He did nothing the traditional way, the Macedonian champion. His army behind him, he charged straight for the center of our ranks, where our leader Darius III was hidden. Oblique tactics, he'd tell me later. But all our soldiers knew was fear.

The formations broke, the ranks crumbled, the Persians fled, retreating at a breakneck speed.

Persia had fallen. Persia, the mightiest of them all, splintered with only one blow from the man we called a fool.

* * *

Today was a strange day, I decided, looking around me and realizing that every woman of the harem was in the main room. This never happened: the expanse of the harem never gave us cause to all gather in one place. Yet today we were here, waiting nervously although we were sure of victory, nerves of a kind that can only be felt when a battle is being fought on one's own soil.

There was only one real problem with the Greeks, I decided. My mother and father, Allah bless them, had thought highly of learning and I had been instructed by a tutor up until the month I was married to Darius III. My tutor was a Greek, and he had taught me the language, as well as the thoughts of the Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.

As I was saying, the only real problem with Greeks is that are too proud of themselves; they are over-confident. They have some lovely works of art, and some very interesting ideas, but they could never match Persia, and would never conquer it.

As I was pondering this, my thoughts were interrupted as the harem door flew open and the guards rushed in. There were screams and altogether chaos as the women rushed to find their veils.

"What are you doing here?" Shirin, the head wife, demanded of the guards. "No man outside of the royal family is allowed to enter the harem!" It wasn't as if the guards didn't know that, but what else was Shirin to say? She was just as bewildered as the rest of us.

"I beg your pardon, your highness." The guard said quickly. "But the-"

"How dare you enter the royal harem!" Shirin cut him off, infuriated. "I will personally see to it that you-"

"The Greeks have won." He said, stopping her mid-sentance.

The whole harem froze.

"What?" Someone demanded.

"The Greeks have won. Persia has been defeated. I came to warn you because we fear that they will come to ravage the harem next."

"They wouldn't!" Shirin shrieked.

The guard opened his mouth to speak, but before he could do so the doors were thrown open again, and this time it was the Greeks, their blood pumping with victory, their bodies heavy with lust.

Utter chaos follwed, as the women ran screaming from the room, locking doors behind them, closing out both Greeks and fellow Persians. I ran for an exit with the rest of them, tripping over something in my hurry to get up.

I was on the floor for only a few seconds before a solider pulled be up roughly, yanking the veil off my head and pinning me harshly against the wall. I tried to kick and push him off me, but it was no use. He laughed and said something in heavily accented and slurred Greek as his hands fumbled to find their way under my clothing.

"STOP THIS!" A voice yelled in Greek, a commander's voice heard even over the fray.

My attacker paid him no mind.

"Every soldier who wishes to keep his life, come and stand behind me!" The man yelled, louder this time.

The man who had me pinned against the wall stopped, unsure of what to do. The commander yelled again in Greek, and this time my captor obeyed, throwing me roughly to the ground and lining up behind his commander.

I watched in amazement as all the soldiers obeyed him, coming out from adjoining rooms to meekly stand behind their captain.

"No one is to touch the women of the harem." Alexander, for that was who I now knew him to be, ordered. Alexander was still in full battle-wear, his strong, proud, form encased in steel.

"Anyone who harms them in any way forfeits their own life." Alexander said coldly. "Do you understand?" He yelled, his voice resonating in the silent room.

The men nodded their consent. "Good." Alexander said. "Now out, all of you." The soldiers shuffled out obediently, and he turned his attention to us.

"I apologize for my soldiers." Alexander said in careful Greek. "They will not harm you again." The women stayed in the furthest corners of the room, their eyes still full of fear.

Alexander gave and exasperated sigh. "Is their anyone here who speaks Greek?" He pulled his helmet off, revealing a head of short, golden hair. "Anyone?"

While many say that it is always safer to remain silent, I prefer to speak up and see what good it will do me. "I speak some Greek." I said carefully.

A look of relief washed over Alexander's face. "Will you tell the women that they will not be harmed?"

I relayed the message quickly in Persian and the women nodded thankfully, though the looks of suspicion never left their faces.

"Thank you." He told me. "I really am sorry about my men."

I shrugged. "One cannot expect much courtesy from soldiers, especially if they are Greek."

He laughed. "You shall see that we Greeks are not as awful as you like to think."

With that he bade me goodbye and went to control his troops, leaving us women to scramble for our veils and to double check each room of the expansive harem and make sure that it was Greek-free.

* * *

Two days later, I was called for again. I pulled a fine muslin veil over my head, not having to worry about the state of my dark black hair or the kohl around my blue eyes.

Alexander was in Darius' apartments, eating his afternoon meal. "You are the girl from the other day?"


"I don't recognize you under that veil." He said with a laugh. "What is your name?"

"Aliyeh." I told him.

"Aliyeh." He repeated, and I winced. The sounds didn't roll of his tongue the way they were supposed to; he said my Persian name with the harsh tones of Greek.

"Did I get it wrong?" He asked me.

"Don't worry about it."

He shrugged. "Do you want something to eat?"

"No, thank you."

"You can sit down, you know."

I sat in the richly upholstered chair across the table from him.

"You are eating Persian food." I noted.

"I am trying to adapt to your customs. I don't want the people to think I a trying to Hellenize them. In Greece, I am ruler of the Greeks; in Egypt, I am Pharaoh. Here in Persia, I shall be the Persian Emperor." He spooned a piece of steaming meat into his mouth. "Plus, the food's good."

I watched him intently, trying to understand this foreign ruler. That is the best part about wearing a veil: I could see Alexander perfectly, but for all he knew I could be staring out the window or reading the lines on my hands.

Alexander was a beautiful man. He was strong, but not overly muscled, with skin tanned from days in the sun. His hair, just long enough to be messy after a hard night's sleep or tousled by the wind, was a blond so golden it seemed to match the sun itself. When he looked at me with his light brown eyes, and smiled a smile that showed his white teeth, I couldn't help but smile back from underneath my veil.

"How are the women faring?" He asked me. "There have been no more problems with the soldiers, I hope."

"No problems, but we are all nervous."

Alexander looked genuinely concerned. "What can I do for you?"

"Restore the Eunuchs."

"The who?"

"The eunuchs." I repeating, speaking of the castrated men who have always guarded the harem, the ones who we used as spies and messengers and everything else. "The men who are not men, the eunuchs."

"Of course." He said, understanding. "You shall have them back as soon as possible."

He finished his meal as I sipped at the cold drink a servant had brought me.

"I've heard many stories about the wealth of the harem." He told me. "They say there is no palace so splendid as that of the queens of Persia."

"It could very well be true."

"Will you show me the harem?" He asked, an eager smile imploring me.

"It will upset the women." I said cautiously. "None but the royal family is allowed inside."

"Aliyeh," he said firmly. "I have conquered Persia. My family is the royal family now."

* * *

I showed him the harem. I lead him down the graceful, airy hallways. I showed him my own apartments, the rich carpets thick and soft against the ground. I took him to the grand main rooms where we women would drink and talk and laugh, always trying to catch Darius' eye, always trying to move up a little higher. I showed him the latticework screens through which we could watch the governmental workings without being seen.

We did not see many women. The first few we ran into were quick to spread the news of an intruder in the harem, and so the women made themselves scarce or were veiled like me, as if we were outside and not behind the safe walls of the harem.

"Another garden?" Alexander asked as I led him under a flowered archway.

"This one's my favorite."

This garden was smaller than many, but the trees grew tall and thick against the walls, blocking all but the most curious spectator from looking in. There were smaller fruit trees too, their fruit still green and un- ripened, and a fountain gurgled from the shade of one tree, offering fresh, clean water.

"It's pretty." Alexander allowed.

"It's one of the few places that's almost private." I told him, knowing he wouldn't really understand the value of privacy in the harem.

We stood in the dappled shade of the tall trees.

"Will you take off your veil?" He asked me suddenly.

"No!" I said, aghast. "It is unheard of!"

"I remember you as beautiful." He said. "You were distraught, but beautiful. Yet now I wonder if perhaps I imagined it all?"

"I am beautiful." I told him with teasing vanity.

"Take off you veil." He said, his voice pleading.

"No." I told him, but there was no force behind it. I found that I wanted to shed my veil, to let him see me and to stare back at him, as a man would a man, an equal an equal.

"What if the emperor of Persia himself ordered you?"

"Then I would have no choice but to accept."

"I command it." He said, his voice low.

I smiled, and let my veil fall with a hiss to the floor. A breeze caressed my thin, strong, body, and blew by deep black hair into disarray. I was clothed, but standing so exposed in front of a man who was not my husband, I felt naked.

He moved closer to me, until we were only inches apart. "You are beautiful." He breathed.

I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him closer, relishing the feel of his muscled body against my own.

"You too are beautiful, my Greek Emperor."

"You know," he said, his soft mouth against my ear. "I am not Greek, but Macedonian."

"You are all Greeks." I told him and laughed.

He caught my laughing mouth with his, and kissed me. I was euphoric as something I had never before felt coursed through me; some unknown passion I hadn't knew existed.

We parted, and I fell from my cloud with a tremor of fear.

"I have to go." I said, untangling myself from him.

"Aliyeh, wait!" He yelled after me, but I was already gone, vanishing through the hallways of the harem that were, to Alexander, yet another empire to conquer.

* * *

I could not forget Alexander. I slept and ate and talked and acted normally, but all I could think of was my golden conqueror.

Just like the rest of Persia, I had been conquered; and so, two days later, I lay in the sun of my garden and thought of him.

I heard the steps of someone near me, and I opened on eye to see Alexander himself standing over me.

"I've missed you." He said, sitting beside me on the soft ground.

I looked at him skeptically, my eyes the famed blue of Persia. "I'm sure there are many others quite willing to keep you company."

"There are." He consented. "But I miss you all the same." He tucked a sprig of jasmine into my hair and lay down next to me.

I gazed at him, tracing the lines of his face with my hand. I felt no fear, I did not feel nervous. It just felt right. I had been dreaming of Alexander for days, and now he way lying beside me. It was right.

I kissed him, and he kissed me, kissed my lips, my cheeks, my eyes, my neck, by nose. He kissed me all over, and I kissed him back, and we lay in each other's arms and kissed until the sun went down and it grew dark in our secret garden. * * *

I saw him every day after that. Alexander was trying to keep an empire together, yet he still found time for me every day.

Sometimes, we talked business; he often used me as his key to the harem.

"There's one woman," he told me, "Who sends someone to me everyday with a new complaint. I try to meet her demands, but I don't want to give her everything."

"That would be Shirin." I told him.

"How did you know?"

"Shirin controls the harem; she is the head wife." I told him. "She wears the symbol of it around her neck, though I guess you would not have seen it. She's used to getting what she wants."

"How did she become the head wife?" He asked.

"Darius liked her best."

With that, the conversation ceased and we fell upon each other like wild men, my lust for him met by nothing but his for me.

I have never felt with another the way I did with Alexander. He was my golden emperor, and I was his foreign princess, with jasmine in her hair. We were young, we were alive, and between us there was nothing but passion.

* * *

After three months he left me, riding off to conquer the world. I watched, veiled, from the balcony, as he led the army out of the city, sitting tall upon Buccephalus, his black horse.

They say that none but Alexander could tame that horse, and if you stood next to it, fearful of it's size and the wild look in its eyes, you would say so too.

But it was the man who could not be tamed. It the sweet spring that I knew him, nothing could hold my Alexander back.

I walked sullenly into my rooms to find on my dressing table a necklace and a note. The necklace was simple: a silver ornament on a silver chain, yet when I saw it my heart quickened.

It was the necklace Shirin had always worn. The necklace that now declared me head wife, ruler of the harem, that gave me the power over all the other women.

I fastened it around my neck with a satisfaction so great I cannot even begin to describe it. I would miss him, yes. But this . . . this power was better than any delight a man could give me. The silver cold against my chest, I unfolded the note that Alexander had left me.

Five simple words scrawled out in Greek:

Because I like you best.