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Tag to S3E8, 'Prisoner of War'
A Musketeers story by Deana

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Athos walked out of Sylvie's room and leaned against the door with a sigh. She'd fallen asleep after her back had been tended, and Athos realized with a start that night had long-since fallen. He hadn't seen Aramis since they'd gotten the queen away from the angry people in the street, and he wanted to speak to him…to find out what he'd suffered at the hands of Grimaud.

Heading for Aramis' room, he raised his hand to knock, but hesitated, in case his friend was asleep. Grasping the door handle, he twisted it slowly and opened the door, sticking his head inside and finding that his friend was indeed in his bed…with Porthos sitting in a chair beside it.

Athos frowned. When they'd asked Aramis if he was all right after rescuing him, he'd said that he was fine. There was a bruise on the left side of his forehead, but he'd been mobile and alert so they'd taken him at his word…but if Porthos was sitting there watching Aramis sleep, then Aramis likely wasn't as hale as he'd claimed.

Porthos looked up as Athos approached. "How's Sylvie?" he whispered.

"The wounds aren't as bad as they seemed," Athos told him. "She'd only received five lashes by the time we arrived, and they weren't deep enough to require stitching. A friend from the refugee camp is with her now."

Porthos nodded. "Good."

Athos looked at their sleeping friend, who hadn't been woken by their whispers. "And Aramis?"

Porthos sighed. Wordlessly, he reached forward and took hold of the blanket that covered their friend and gently pulled it back.

Athos caught his breath at what he saw: both of Aramis' shoulders were reddened and there was deep bruising over his ribs.

"Look at his wrists," Porthos said.

Athos did, and saw that they both appeared swollen.

"He hung there the whole time," Porthos said. "Moments after he arrived, Grimaud hit 'im and knocked him out, and when he woke up, he was hangin' there from a post. He hung there all day before he had a chance to escape. He swung himself off and ran, but they caught him and strung 'im back up like a slab of beef." He shook his head angrily. "Then, he hung there until we arrived. Grimaud did that with a pistol," he said, pointing to the bruises over Aramis' ribs. "Athos," he said, looking up at him. "Do you realize that his full weight hung from his wrists for over a day? Before he fell asleep, he told me that his hands were still numb and the pain in his shoulders was 'terrible'."

Athos could feel his anger growing so much that he clenched his fists and his nails bit into his palms. If he didn't already hate Grimaud before, he certainly hated him now.

"I didn't realize how hurt he was," Porthos said, sounding ashamed. "Even after we rescued him and returned to the garrison…"

Porthos watched as Athos went up to his office, and he turned back to the table in time to see Aramis slowly swing down from his horse. He frowned at the sight, as it was obvious that his friend was in pain. He headed over, to where Aramis was only just pulling his boot out of the stirrup. "Hey, you sure you're all right?"

Aramis quickly dropped his hands from where they clutched the saddle, leaning against the horse with a wince. "I'm fine."

"You don't look fine," Porthos told him. He took his friend's arm and led him over to the table, sitting him down. "Out with it."

Aramis looked at him tiredly. "What?"

"You always hide your injuries," Porthos said, crossing his arms. "I should've known."

Aramis closed his eyes for a few seconds. "I'm fine…just exhausted, hungry, and sore."

Porthos made a face, not sure if he should believe it. "Stay here, I'll get you somethin' from the kitchen." With that, he walked off.

Aramis kept his eyes closed, nearly too tired to open them. He didn't see Athos come down the stairs and rush out of the garrison to find Sylvie, and he didn't see Milady De Winter quietly slink past a moment later, going around the back of the table so he wouldn't see her.

"Aramis? Hey," he suddenly heard.

Aramis opened his eyes with effort, his eyes practically rolling before they slowly focused on his concerned friend.

"What's wrong with you?" Porthos asked as he put a plate on the table. "Don't lie to me. Do you have a concussion?" he asked, reaching over to move Aramis' hair so he could see the bruise on the left side of his forehead.

Aramis thought for a minute. His head was throbbing and he felt dizzy…though that was likely also being caused by Grimaud's pistol going off beside his right ear, which was ringing. "A mild one, perhaps."

"Here," Porthos said, handing him a goblet of wine.

Aramis took it but nearly dropped it when his numb hand didn't grasp it correctly. He grabbed it with his other hand too, glad when Porthos didn't notice as he poured another goblet for himself.

The wine tasted wonderful, and Aramis had downed every drop before he could stop himself, making his head spin. The plate on the table contained bread, meat, and cheese, and he picked up a piece of bread with numb fingers and ate it quickly, knowing how foolish it was to drink wine on an empty stomach, especially when his equilibrium was already in question.

A moment later, Athos suddenly came bursting into the garrison, telling them that the queen was in danger.

Those words seemed to banish Aramis' pain and exhaustion, and they quickly followed him.

"After we saved the queen, that was the last I saw of him until he returned from the palace," Porthos told Athos.

Aramis slowly rode into the garrison after speaking to Treville, his heart feeling just as heavy as his exhausted body. He hadn't meant to make the minister angry, and vowed to apologize the first chance he got.

Porthos was sitting at the table and watched him ride towards the stable. He rose to follow, watching as Aramis remained sitting on the horse instead of getting down.

Eyes closed, Aramis tiredly swayed, literally falling asleep where he sat.

"Aramis?" Porthos said, reaching up to grab him.

Aramis made a sound but didn't open his eyes, letting his friend pull him down from the horse. He couldn't stop himself from wincing, and Porthos assumed that it was from the headache that he knew he had.

"Come on, to bed with you," Porthos said. He grabbed one of Aramis' arms to sling around his neck, but Aramis groaned, so Porthos wrapped his arm around him instead and guided him to his room, where he sat him on a chair.

Aramis' head hung forward, his eyes closed.

Porthos grabbed him by the arms and tried to see into his face. "Aramis, look at me: tell me what's wrong! Should I fetch a doctor?"

Aramis didn't answer.

Porthos gave him a shake, which made Aramis wince. "Talk to me, Aramis; tell me what you need!"

"Sleep," Aramis mumbled. Slowly, his eyes half-opened. "I rode all night...hung there the whole time...haven't slept...since..."

Now it was Porthos' turn to wince. "Didn't think of that, sorry," he said. "How on earth have you been able to move your arms?!"

Aramis smiled slightly. "By God's grace."

Porthos sighed. "Well, you won't be movin' them for a few days after this."

Aramis said nothing, unable to stay awake.

Porthos manhandled his friend out of his doublet and shirt, wincing at the bruises that he saw all over his friend's torso. He carefully lifted him and put him on his bed before carefully touching the bruises over his ribs to make sure none were broken.

Aramis flinched from the pain.

"Sorry," Porthos said. "Think anything's broken?"

"No," Aramis whispered, eyes still closed.

"Good," Porthos replied, relieved. He looked at his friend's shoulders, but knew that there was nothing he could do for them. "How do your shoulders feel?"

"Terrible."

Porthos was surprised to get such an honest answer from Aramis, who usually downplayed his injuries. With a sigh, he gently picked up one of his friend's pale hands to examine its swollen wrist. "What about your hands?"

"They're numb," Aramis mumbled.

Porthos sighed at that and started to knead his hand, trying to get the circulation back. "Let me know if this hurts," he said.

Aramis didn't answer for a few seconds, before going, "Mmm," as if it had taken him that long to understand.

Porthos eventually switched over to his other hand, noting with relief that they both looked a little pinker than they had before.

"He's been asleep ever since," Porthos told Athos.

Athos shook his head, barely able to contain his anger. "Grimaud is going to pay for this!"

Porthos nodded. "Yes, he is."

Suddenly, there was the unexpected sound of someone dropping something in the hall, and it was loud enough to wake Aramis, who moved his head slightly, his eyes scrunching tighter from the pain.

Part of Athos was glad, as they had no idea when their injured friend would wake again. "Aramis?" he said.

Aramis moved his head again, still wincing, his breathing faster now that he was awake.

"Aramis?"

"Hmm?" he answered.

"Can you open your eyes for a moment?" Athos asked.

Aramis mumbled something that was supposed to be an answer and his eyes remained closed.

"Then listen," Athos said. "I owe you an apology."

Porthos looked at him, confused.

"For what?" Aramis mumbled.

Athos suddenly realized that Aramis didn't know what had happened while he was at the palace. "Sylvie was whipped as punishment for those papers about the queen. I stopped them and rescued her…and Marcheaux said that it was treason to interfere with the law. I told him, 'to hell with the law', and realized later that I'd done the same thing that you did…committed treason for love."

Aramis opened his eyes slightly.

"I know how it feels now," said Athos. "And I'm sorry, Aramis; for trying to discourage you regarding the queen and your son, instead of supporting you."

Porthos looked from one to the other of them, not knowing what to say.

Aramis was so tired and groggy, that he felt like someone was literally trying to yank his consciousness out of his head, but he somehow managed to focus on Athos' words. "You were trying…to protect me," he mumbled.

Athos sighed. "Still, I didn't know what you felt—what you still feel—until now."

Aramis tried to move his hand towards him, but stopped with a wince.

Athos slid his hand under his friend's, noticing how Aramis tried to sluggishly close his numb fingers around it but mostly failed in the attempt. "Can you forgive me?"

Aramis smiled slightly, trying desperately to keep his eyes open. "Of course."

Athos smiled back, watching as Aramis' eyes slid shut.

"Sylvie…all right?" Aramis mumbled.

"Yes," Athos said. "I'll tell her that you asked after her."

Aramis nodded slightly, before saying, "Still think…strange choice."

Porthos snorted.

Athos smiled. "Everything would seem strange to you in your state. Go to sleep."

Aramis smiled back before falling silent.

Both Athos and Porthos quietly watched him for a minute, before Porthos bumped Athos' arm with his fist. "I'm happy for you, for finding love," he said.

Athos nodded, before suddenly feeling Aramis' fingers attempt again to weakly squeeze his hand. Aramis must've still been awake to some degree, and that was the exhausted musketeer's way of telling Athos that he was glad too.

Athos squeezed it back gently, before saying to them both, "Thank you."

THE END