AN- Tag to 1x10, this is inspired by the idea that Milady was lying when she tells D'Artagnan "your friends left you to bleed out in the street". This story is a gap filler, telling some of what could have happened between D'Artagnan getting shot and the following morning, from Aramis's perspective.
It had all gone terribly wrong. The gunshot echoed loud and clear through the dark square, and Aramis expected a shout, a cry of pain, something from their impetuous young Gascon who he more than anything expected to be on his feet, and calling out Athos as some sort of monster as they had planned.
What he did not expect was this. D'Artagnan stumbling back and losing his footing, fainting back into Treville's arms, with Aramis helping to support him down to the pavement. The bullet had missed D'Artagnan's arm, missed it by a mile and instead Aramis's mind went slightly numb as he watched blood begin to swell and flow out of a whole in D'Artagnan's side.
Treville was speaking now, lightly slapping the boy's face attempting to bring him back into the world of the living and Aramis watched Porthos bring his hands, encased in a brand new pair of leather gloves, away from the wound for a moment before blood flooded forth even more abundantly than before.
In truth only a few seconds had passed before Aramis turned and looked over his shoulder at Athos. Athos's face had gone deadly white and contained the most horrid combination of guilt and anguish. Athos lingered but a moment, swaying slightly from the effect of the drink, before turning and making a run, which was more of a stumble from the courtyard in the direction of his lodgings.
Aramis knew without a doubt that should D'Artagnan die this night, they would lose not one but two of their friends, and with this thought he plunged into medic mode, boxing his own fears neatly to one side as he returned his attention to the patient before him.
Drawing a handkerchief from his pocket he folded it into a neat pad which he pressed on the wound.
"Keep pressure there please" Aramis said to Porthos, his calm tones betrayed nothing of the gnawing worry that he was struggling to keep confined in that small neat box, as he tugged his own leather gloves off and prepared to feel around the wound with his hands, to try and assess the damage, first through the skin, and then if necessary he would probe inside the wound with his fingers, a task that could prove almost as dangerous as the wound itself.
He gently lifted the D'Artagnan's shirt and reached up inside to feel around the wound.
"The bullet is lodged between two ribs, I believe that they are both cracked, provided I can stop the bleeding and extract the bullet, and barring any infections he should live." Aramis's words were short and to the point. "We need to get him somewhere I can work on him, somewhere close by, I fear the garrison will be too far for him to survive the trip."
"You can bring him to my lodgings" The three men looked up in surprise and Milady De Winter. Somehow in the confusion they had all forgotten the object of their plan. "It is only a few minutes' walk from here, provided you are able to carry him that far." Aramis swallowed his surprise and reluctance to follow the original plan and place their friend entirely at the mercy of this woman.
"Your shawl if you please Madame" She handed him the wrap without a word, an amused smile playing around her lips. "Could you lift him a little captain, I need to wrap this around his torso. Porthos keep the pressure on." Again Aramis found instruction's falling from his lips as he wrapped the shawl tightly around D'Artagnan's torso twice before tying it cruelly tight. D'Artagnan whimpered and moaned a little even in his unconscious state.
Aramis looked at the other two men. "We need to lift him together, it is important to carry him as smoothly as possible, this is more important than speed. If a jolt dislodges the bullet and it nicks and artery, or if one of the broken ribs splinters and punctures a lung I doubt even the kings physician would be able to save his life. I will take his injured side, Porthos you take the other, Captain if you can support his head and shoulders. On my count: three… two… one… lift!"
They drew several stares as their odd little group followed Milady through a couple of narrow streets, but even with the gentle pace they had set, it was less than three minutes before they were laying D'Artagnan down in a first floor bedchamber at Milady's lodgings.
In truth, once water and supplies had been fetched, it only took Aramis a few short minutes to extract the bullet, clean the wound thoroughly, stitch it, and bind his ribs but he felt utterly drained as he finished. And he had barely finished. D'Artagnan was just beginning to come round when Milady returned with a small, anxious looking physician in tow.
"As you can see, your services are no longer required, I have brought a true doctor, you can return to the garrison with no stain on your conscience." Aramis stood, hating himself for complying with her wishes but knowing that if the plan was to have any hope of success at all then he and the others needed to leave. Aramis addressed his next words to the physician.
"As you can see I have extracted the bullet, stitched, cleaned and bandaged the wound. You will find he has a couple of broken ribs. The wound will need to be cleaned and the dressings changed come morning. Aside from that I believe all that needs to be done is to watch him for infection." Aramis was just reaching the door before he turned and added: "Oh and don't bleed him, he's lost enough blood already tonight." before sweeping through the door after Porthos and Treville.
It was as he was about to re-enter the warm night when he suddenly found himself back against the wall, and Milady standing so close to him that he could feel the swell of her bosom against his chest.
"I don't understand, that boy betrayed you, Athos rejected him and yet you still saved his life." Her eyes were flickering with curiosity, their catlike gleam so mesmerising that for the first time he truly understood how both Athos and D'Artagnan had been taken in by her charisma.
"Athos is and always will be my brother and my loyalty remains with him. However, it would go against my honour as a soldier to leave a fellow musketeer bleeding out in the street after a drunken accident. Athos's reactions were augmented by the wine he had consumed and his shock at D'Artagnan's betrayal. Besides, we both know that that bullet was intended for you." Aramis's words were cold and logical, and he thought he saw a half imagined gleam of hurt in her eyes before he swept past her into the warm night.
The three soldiers made their way through the still lively Paris streets in silence. Treville leaving them to make his way back to the Garrison, Aramis and Porthos, on ever quickening feet made their own way to Athos's lodgings.
The sight they found was not a pretty one. If the accumulation of empty bottles could be taken, Athos was now well into his fifth bottle of wine, slumped on the floor, an absolute mess.
"Oh Athos" Aramis's heart wrenched at the devastating scene before him, before kneeling by his friend and gently extracting the bottle from his hand.
"I killed him." They had never known Athos to sob, but this exclamation came fairly close.
"No, no you did not my friend." Aramis found himself cupping the older man's face, pressing their foreheads together. "He lives Athos! The bullet grazed his ribs but he lives. The wound is not a mortal one and by the grace of God D'Artagnan will live many years yet."
Athos was suddenly utterly vulnerable in his hope. "Truly."
"Truly, I myself was his surgeon. Now man, we need to sober you up, or how are we to implement this genius plan of yours in the morning."
It was with renewed hope that Aramis and Porthos set about the familiar task of sobering their leader up enough to pass muster come morning, and the grey light of dawn, filtering in through the window, went some way towards banishing the heavy shadows of the previous night.