Author note: There was indeed an attempt on the Chancellor's life. The assassins were captured, but not before they killed Monsieur Bonacieux for stumbling upon their position.


It was a palpable relief to shut the door on the outside world. Aramis wanted to drop his weapons belt to the ground and fall face-first into bed, but a good soldier never treated his tools so casually. Pistols went in the wooden box on the desk, sword belt over the back of the chair, and the rest of his gear slowly made its way onto hooks and shelves until he stood in his shirtsleeves.

Shirtsleeves. He looked at the spots and smears of blood all over himself and pulled the shirt over his head with a sigh, slinging it towards the small basket of clothes to launder or mend. Maybe when I retire, I'll invent a solvent that removes bloodstains and get rich. Until then, it was the fate of all his shirts to slowly turn from white to reddish-tan. Well, most of them: he put on the gray one to spite the thought. The fresh linen felt good, and he shrugged back into his coat.

He trailed a hand over the sword belt on the back of the chair. He knew he should put it on, then bring his Bible and a bottle of wine up to Treville's room, but he didn't move. He was at once weary and restless, and his door seemed to be holding back an army of troubles.

Slowly, Aramis turned and knelt next to his bed. Just as he had done as a child, he put his elbows on the bedframe and rested his forehead on his clasped hands. He closed his eyes and let his mind quiet.

There was a verse from Corinthians he always came back to: God hath tempered the body together, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another. The spirit of the musketeers, neatly enumerated by St. Paul. It made him smile, and Athos roll his eyes.

Aramis took the crucifix from his neck and wound it around one hand, and he prayed for Treville's recovery. He prayed for Constance, who had come to greet them in the courtyard with such an innocent spring in her step. He prayed for d'Artagnan in his conflict and anguish, and for poor, murdered Bonacieux's soul, and for Doctor Lemay. He prayed for the king, and, at somewhat greater length, for the queen and the sweet infant Dauphin, his son. He prayed, as he always did, for his companions' safety, and thanked God for his own life. Last of all, he said an Ave for his mother. The litany was like oil on troubled waters, and when he was done, he sat for a long, wordless moment, rolling the beads in his fingers. When he rose, he found that the sword belt went on easily, and he opened his door on the world again without feeling quite so... assaulted.

The courtyard was deserted, and upstairs he found only Porthos, whittling with his boot knife as Treville slept.

"Where's Athos?" he asked quietly, setting the book and the wine on Treville's desk.

"He and d'Artagnan are taking Constance home. She's pretty shaken up."

"Of course. Whether or not she loved him…"

Porthos just nodded, turning the little wooden carving over in his hands.

Aramis went to Treville and touched the backs of his fingers to his forehead and cheek. They were warm, but not dangerously so; he would check again in half an hour, or if Treville grew flushed.

In the meantime, Aramis poured the wine, and he and Porthos raised their cups to each other before drinking, an acknowledgement more than a toast. Aramis put his cup down, picked up his Bible, and settled himself in the other chair as well as he could. Treville doesn't want anyone getting too comfortable in his office.

Porthos set his cup down next to the chair leg and looked at Aramis. "You really think the captain will be alright?"

"He will if we have anything to say about it."

Porthos didn't look convinced.

"Yes," Aramis said plainly. "I really do."

"Alright. Good." Face unreadable, Porthos returned to his carving. A bird this time, Aramis thought, or a whistle he would give away to some little urchin in the streets. How he could make such delicate things and not master a needle and thread...

Aramis turned his attention to the well-worn Bible in his lap. There was a ribbon marking his place, near the beginning of the Psalms, but he paged past it, looking for something else. There—

God hath tempered the body together, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Faces appeared in his mind, those of friends and fellow soldiers gone to God. Aramis did not push the thoughts of them away, but acknowledged each one, and to each he promised that Treville would not join their ranks for a good long time.

Aramis took a deep breath and let the memories, good and bad, settle in his heart. This was the feeling he'd had that morning, watching Athos and Porthos leave—a different sort of peace than the clean, light feeling of prayer. That was what God gave him. This was what he gave back.

He read on.

Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Another tiny curl of wood dropped from Porthos' knife; Treville shifted against his pillows and quieted again; Aramis turned the page.

Love never fails.

FIN