So I am incredibly nervous about posting this, as it has been quite a while since my writer's block relented and I had a story to share on here. Plus this is my first story in The Musketeers fandom. But I was so inspired by this wonderful show, and the absolutely amazing stories I have read on here. And it feels so great to have written again! I hope you all enjoy!
"I did not wish to show you this," Treville said softly, and Athos felt his breath catch in his throat. He had never heard this tone from his captain before, almost a whisper, almost shaking, and Treville would not meet the eyes of the three musketeers following closely behind him. "I would have spared you this, but I knew you would never believe me otherwise, and I wished to prevent all reckless enterprises on your parts."
Sighing, Treville turned the corner of the narrow street, and halted. "Though somehow I doubt anything is left now to take heed from reason," he sighed, as he heard the deep intakes of breath behind him, knowing Aramis, Athos, and Porthos had frozen in their tracks, unable to take another step towards the sight in front of them.
Before them lay Constance Bonacieux's home, the room on the bottom floor burned out and smoking.
"Madame Bonacieux and her husband are both visiting his family in a village miles away," Treville said, his fight to keep his voice even evident despite his intentions.
It had been a relatively well-kept secret that after his attempt on his own life, Monsieur Bonacieux had taken some time off to recover in the countryside with his family, and that Madame Bonacieux had stayed behind to tidy up some business affairs before joining him. It was a poorly kept secret among the musketeer regiment that while Madame Bonacieux had been at home without her husband, D'Artagnan had not been sleeping at the garrison.
"D'Artagnan..." Athos trailed off, the oh-so-familiar name lodging in his throat, almost choking him. "D'Art-" He couldn't finish. The world was spinning off its axis and he couldn't make it stop.
"Was inside asleep," Treville said quietly. "Madame Bonacieux had only left a few hours before, and must have left him to his sleep before he had to report for training."
But Athos had already seen the body, covered by a sheet, and thrown the thin shroud off, to reveal skin charred to shreds, and the watch they had given D'Artagnan for his birthday, inscribed with All For One And One For All in thin, delicate script. They had joked that maybe now their boy would be on time for once.
Then Athos heard retching, and realized it was him, down on his knees in the ashes, everything he had eaten in a pool around him, tears streaming down his face. And Aramis and Porthos could not be there to help him, for they too were bent double, pale and shaking and wrecked.
"God, no," Aramis choked out, kneeling beside the remains as if he could somehow stich them back together. Then he turned away, face buried in his hat, and felt Porthos' hand gripping his shoulder, but unlike every time before, he did not feel grounded, nor safe.
"I'm truly sorry," Treville said softly, hand resting on Athos' arm. Athos shuddered, the first movement he had made since dropping to his knees, and then found he could not stop shaking, tremors running unendingly through his unfeeling body.
Treville's cloak was suddenly dropped around Athos' shoulders, but the warmth didn't stop the chills. The captain could see the crowd of shocked and saddened musketeers growing around him, but all stayed back, giving the grief-stricken Inseparables a wide berth of space.
"They loved him deeply," came a whisper from behind them, a newer musketeer who stared at the destruction before him with a gaze both saddened and fascinated.
"They still do," Treville murmured, before turning and gesturing to the crowd to disperse back to the garrison. He remained, his gaze on the three figures still kneeling in the ash.
"Was this fire lit on purpose?" Aramis asked Treville, twisting his hat in his hands unconsciously. Treville nodded, only once, but it was enough.
"I will kill whoever did this!" Porthos suddenly roared, springing to his feet.
"We will make them suffer first," Athos said, and Treville bowed his head as he realized every spark of warmth D'Artagnan had brought whirling into their lives was gone from Athos' tone, and from his gaze. Treville glanced at Aramis and Porthos, and saw the same ice now in their veins.
"They are not thinking clearly," a remaining musketeer murmured at Treville's side. "They will get themselves killed."
"I fear that is exactly what they want," Treville said, his eyes never leaving the three men.
D'Artagnan opened his eyes, wincing at the painful throbbing in his head. At first he assumed he must simply have had too much to drink the night before, but quickly realized that couldn't be the case. He did not recognize the room he was currently lying in, and he was alone.
The window was dusty, but could still be seen through. Groaning, D'Artagnan dragged himself over, squinting to see outside.
"Not every day one gets to watch their own funeral, hm D'Artagnan?" The voice sent shivers up his spine, and he instinctively reached for the sword missing from his hip.
"Milady de Winter," D'Artagnan breathed out, eyes scanning the room for any guards, and for an exit. And then her words sunk in. "My funeral?"
He spun around, closing his eyes briefly at the dizziness, before forcing them back open. There, on the grounds below him, was a graveyard, full of musketeers, heads bowed, hats held in their hands. Treville stood in front, flanked by Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, in front of a newly hewn tombstone and a freshly dug grave.
"Athos!" D'Aragnan screamed out, pounding on the window. "Aramis! Porthos!"
"They think you're dead," Milady said with a smile, perching on the edge of the bed, smoothing the sheets beneath her fingers. "A burned out room, your watch planted on a drunken beggar, and a spark." She snapped her fingers together, leaning back against the pillows.
"Why are you doing this?" D'Artagnan yelled, his eyes never leaving the men below him, his hands still pressed against the window pane.
"You thought you were so clever," Milady said, and for a moment a sneer slid its way across her face. "I learn quickly, though. I saw that there truly was no way to cause a real rift between you and your beloved friends. So I decided instead to find another…solution."
Rising from the bed, she gestured out the window. "See how they grieve?" D'Artagnan could not keep his eyes off his friends, though he could barely see through the tears clouding his vision. "They are in such pain."
Below him, Athos, Aramis, and Porthos knelt at the foot of the grave. Each removed their sword from their side, and laid them reverently on the freshly-turned earth. There the three remained, seemingly unable to rise again, as the musketeers behind them bowed their heads again in respect.
"I can only imagine how quickly our Athos will drink himself to death over the loss of yet another brother he loved so dearly," Milady whispered in D'Artagnan's ear, drawing ever closer. "And Aramis and Porthos will be driven so reckless by grief over you, it won't be long before they find themselves underground themselves. And you will bear the knowledge."
And D'Artagnan could see it all as she spoke, the near future with Athos staggering into a ditch or the end of a sword, Aramis losing faith and himself, Porthos picking fights until the final one came. With a cry, he grabbed the nearest object, a heavy wooden chair, and smashed it through the window.
If the suddenly falling shards hadn't gotten the attention of the men below, D'Artagnan's startled cry as he was yanked back by his hair certainly did. He felt a knife at his throat, mind racing as he heard yells and footsteps from below.
The sound of Athos' voice, suddenly firm as he shouted orders from the stairway, caused Milady to pull away for just a moment, but that moment was enough. Twisting from her grasp, he spun away, putting distance between himself and the knife. "Athos! Porthos! Aramis!" he called again, "Be careful! Milady is here!"
This time they heard him.
D'Artagnan barely registered a small alcove of wall moving behind him, as Milady slipped into a passage on her way out of the building now overrun with musketeers. All he knew was she was gone, and his brothers were in front of him, frozen in the doorway.
"So I'm not dead," D'Artagnan said softly, arms reaching out, and just as suddenly he was wrapped in Athos' embrace, one of Athos' hands on the back of his head, pulling him into his chest, the other clutching at D'Artagnan's back.
"I don't care how," he heard Athos murmur against D'Artagnan's disheveled hair. "Are you alright? Are you hurt at all?"
" 'm fine, 'Thos," D'Artagnan mumbled against Athos' shirt, not trying to stop the grin spreading across his face.
"There is a bump on your head," Athos growled, "I will kill the person who put it there."
"Said 'm fine, 'Thos," D'Artagnan said again, but Athos only pulled him in tighter.
"I will be the judge of that," Aramis said softly, and D'Artagnan now found himself held tightly in Aramis' arms. Though Athos had stepped back to allow Aramis his turn, he kept a hand resting firmly on the back of D'Artagnan's neck.
"Let me at the lad first," Porthos said, and, understanding the other two men's need to keep a hold on D'Artagnan, Porthos simply wrapped his arms around all three, holding on tight.
D'Artagnan suddenly found himself sat down on the bed, Athos and Porthos on either side of him, Aramis behind him carefully checking the back of D'Artagnan's head.
"Milady," D'Artagnan started up, attempting to rise from the bed, but three pairs of hands gently pushed him back down. "She's getting away!"
"We will find her, I promise," Athos assured him, laying a reassuring hand on D'Artagnan's knee. "We will not let what she has done to you stand. But for now, what is most important is making sure you are alright."
"What Athos is trying to say," Porthos said softly, pulling D'Artagnan in close against his side, "is we were shattered, lad, and we're not letting you out of our sight."
"I'm sorry," D'Artagnan murmured, and felt Athos' hand under his chin, lifting his head to meet Athos' clear eyes.
"You have nothing to apologize for," Athos assured him, lightly ruffling D'Artagnan's hair with his other hand. "However Milady perpetrated this, you were clearly not complicit, and you alerted us as soon as you were able. You did well, D'Artagnan. You were brave and you returned to us."
"However you are to blame for bringing us to care about your well-being so deeply," Aramis added, and D'Artagnan looked up to see Aramis smiling at him. "Though I can only thank you for that, and for the fact that the lump on your head will soon disappear, and you will still be here."
"I do not wish to see any of you at training for at least two days, however." Treville spoke from the doorway, his eyes light as he strode forward to grasp D'Artagnan's hand. "It is good to see you D'Artagnan."
"Thank you, sir"," D'Artagnan responded, rising to his feet, swaying only slightly.
"The large room in the garrison is yours while you recover," Treville said, nodding at the four men. "Please keep a careful eye on our young recruit."
"He's never getting out of our sight again, sir," Porthos assured him, and D'Artagnan smiled as Athos slung an arm around his shoulders and begin helping him navigate the stairs.
"I have no intention of leaving," D'Artagnan promised, and felt Athos' hand ruffle his hair once again as they made their way into the sun.