Final chapter

A week later, the garrison was once again filled with the sound of clanging swords as men fought in the yard. Treville oversaw it all from his balcony. He had burnt the report for the Savoy mission and vowed to never let history repeat itself. He would not fail his men again, but rebuild and make them stronger. Athos was instructing some of the new recruits in swordsmanship, using his quiet but authority filled tone on them. The man was a natural leader and everyday Treville found he relied on him more and more. The same could also be said for Aramis.

The marksman had shakily walked down to the table that morning with Porthos' assistance. When Treville had suggested the fresh air, he had not missed the way Aramis looked to Athos briefly for guidance. Even when Serge brought breakfast out, the marksman did not touch his food until Athos pushed the bowl towards him in a silent order. Thus, Treville's words had come true. Aramis didn't need him anymore. He now relied on his newfound friends. Porthos, the lovable giant who could console the man when the nightmares woke him from his slumber, and Athos, the man who could make sure he kept going despite the ever-present wish to give up.

"You know I ain't forgotten about you teaching me to shoot," Porthos stated to Aramis as he placed a pistol down on the table in front of the marksman. Aramis quirked an eyebrow from where he lay resting against the post behind him, enjoying the sun on his face.

"I cannot yet hold a pistol," Aramis admitted as his hand tremored slightly before he hid it within the warm cloak he wore.

"I know that, but you soon will. Today you gotta make sure I still know how to clean it properly."

"That I can do," Aramis replied, making Porthos smile at his acceptance. He had just finished cleaning his pistol when he looked up to see Aramis had fallen asleep where he sat. Athos came over, having finished the training session.

"We best move him before his back starts to hurt," Athos said.

"Carry him?"

"No. He can do it," Athos replied, placing a hand on the marksman's shoulder and waking him. Sleepy eyes opened to see Athos before him. "Come, we'll try again tomorrow." Aramis nodded slowly in acceptance, letting Athos wrap an arm around his chest to help him stand. Athos then pulled one of Aramis' arms around his shoulder and slowly walked him back to his room. Aramis had left Treville's room the day before, when he had insisted he stop intruding. Treville hadn't been best pleased, but had accepted it when Athos and Porthos had stated they would move so that their rooms were beside Aramis'. The marksman would never be far from another person. He would never have to suffer his nightmares alone.

A month passed and Aramis was back on light duties beside Athos and Porthos. There were eight Musketeers and twenty recruits ready to resume their duty in protecting the King. Treville always made sure that two experienced men were always placed together, aided by the recruits. It would not be long until they all proved their worth as King's Musketeers.

Athos, Porthos and Aramis rode back into the garrison. They all entered Treville's office together, with Athos stating the report. When it was done Treville asked Athos to stay behind and the other two left. Porthos taking the stairs slowly, knowing his friend was still a little weak.

"Athos, six weeks ago, I was about to have a man promoted to be my Lieutenant. The decision was of course delayed and now I find myself making an entirely new one. You've been here for a short time but you are a natural leader. The men look to you and I know that I can rely on you whenever I need to. Athos I ask that you take the position as my Lieutenant."

"Captain, this would be a mistake," Athos replied immediately.

"Your reasons?" Treville asked, knowing that this would not be easy.

"I am not reliable. I am a drunkard and barely more than a recruit myself. The choice was between Aramis and three others. Aramis is the only one left and the right choice. He has more experience than any of us. He is an excellent soldier, skilled and loyal…"

"Athos," Treville silenced. "Aramis is the most talented marksman I know, and one of my best men. Perhaps, if circumstances had been different I would have chosen him, but things have changed. Savoy has changed him."

"Sir…"

"No Athos. Do not deny what you know to be true. When I first met Aramis he was a lost boy in need of guidance. I offered him a place here and he thrived. Over the years, he became his own man and stopped looking to me for support. Savoy has knocked him back. He looks to you now. It will take time before he is ready to take control again. You must be there for him Athos when I can no longer be. If you care for him, you will do this. The result if you do not would be painful for all. Do you accept?"

"You give me little choice. I am either a fool or heartless."

"You are neither, in time I hope you'll see that."

"Captain," Athos replied, walking out of the room once Treville had dismissed him. Athos looked down from the balcony at Aramis and Porthos sat at the table. Porthos was shuffling cards and practicing his cheating whilst Aramis leant back with his hat over his eyes. Athos allowed himself a small smile at the sight of his companions. It would not be long until they were revered amongst their comrades and known as the Inseperables. Five years from now another would join their friendship and tales of their brotherhood would last for eternity.

THE END