Well we've finally reached the end of this story folks. Thanks so much to everyone for still reading. I hope you enjoyed it. The epilogue is below wrapping up some loose ends and answering a very important question.
Anne was released from hospital the next day. Thankfully her baby was unharmed. The drugs had not been concentrated enough to hurt the child she carried. Her son was strong. Like his father.
Constance had raised her eyebrows and gently argued when Anne had asked her to take her to the Palace instead of her apartment. She was supposed to rest.
She wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and stay there. But that would mean hiding and running away. She had not been raised that way. It was time to face the consequences of her actions.
Louis was already in his study when she arrived, drink in his hand. "Are you alright? You and the baby?" His voice was a mixture of forced indifference and anger laced with concern.
"Yes." She sat down and waited. Louis finished his drink and refilled his glass.
"How could you! How could you betray me like this Anne!"
"It was never my intention." Louis huffed. "I mean it. I have been your loyal friend and partner and supporter... I still am. I always will be. But neither of us wanted an engagement Louis, that was the designs and the desires of others and you know it. We were not destined to be lovers but we are family. We have been family since we were fourteen years old. I love you."
"But you fell in love with Aramis!" he snapped, slamming his glass on the table. He looked at her properly for the first time since she'd arrived. Angry and hurt. "I can't forgive you."
"I don't expect you to. But you are my oldest friend. Can't we please still be friends."
He paused as he passed her. "I'll be a friend to your child. I don't know if we'll be friends again."
"Louis. Whether you believe me or not I will always be a true friend to you."
"I don't believe it."
Aramis wasn't sure if he was awake or asleep at this point. He was exhausted but he still had work to do. Rochefort's scheme had to be completely dismantled, his fellow traitors rooted out, Vargas had to be transported to the local authorities.
Aramis did as needed without complaint. Anne and the baby were safe and he owed his brothers, his family.
He wasn't surprised when Louis sent for him.
"Give me one reason why I shouldn't have you discharged immediately and run out of Paris." He didn't answer. There wasn't one he could give that Louis would accept.
"Admit it!" Now the other man turned to face him with cold ferocity. "I know the truth but I want to hear you say it."
"What good would it do?"
"Admit it! Admit you slept with my fiancée!"
"I slept with the loneliest woman in Paris. A woman who was isolated and ignored and belittled. A woman who was treated as a pretty doll to claim and display and then left there when you were bored. A woman who had to endure her fiancé's exploits and act impassive as she was humiliated by your affairs splashed across every paper and tv station in the world."
"Oh, don't make excuses. You were so supposed to protect me not knock up my slut of a fiancée."
Something in Aramis snapped "I AM PROTECTING YOU!" It took all his better reasoning not to shove the shorter man against the wall but that would help no one. "I am protecting you. You want to make me the villain and I understand that, it's justified even. But you are not a purely innocent victim. You bear responsibility too and Anne does not deserve being slandered."
"Is this you 'protecting' me?" Louis mocked.
"I'm protecting you from doing something you can't take back."
"Well no more," Louis snapped. "What you have done is a firing offense and I will personally see to it that your career never recovers from this. And mark my words you will have no interaction with Anne or her child. Now get out of my sight."
Aramis was certain he was dreaming when Anne sent him a message a few hours later to meet her at Notre-Dame that night.
She was already seated in a pew off the alter when he slipped in beside her.
He didn't tell her about his conversation. Or Louis' threats. He was already refuting one of them. "This is going to get out. And people are going to use it against you. You need to be ready for their attack."
"Tomorrow morning an announcement is going out that Louis and I have ended our engagement. Not the reasons of course, but it will be the start." Aramis was too exhausted to know how he felt at the news.
"I have spent all day thinking of what needs to be done. I know it will not be easy but I need to do what is best for France and for our son." If he wasn't already in love with her he would have been from the strength and determination she had in that moment.
He caught her hand and pressed it to his lips. "You are not alone."
Even a smile that small was beautiful from her. "So Constance insists in repeatedly informing me. I have her and Treville and my Musketeers. You will be watching over us."
"Always. I hope."
"I hope so too. Truly Aramis. I am so grateful that we did not lose you." Her fingers wound tighter around his as her other arm wrapped around her stomach. Their child.
"I'm just glad we got to you in time. If I hadn't have found you…" The thought of what that monster could have done will fuel nightmares for the rest of their lives. Anne curled in against him. He doesn't know if the comfort is for him or for her but he's as content to give it as receive it.
"Yes." The word is muffled against his shoulder and he's confused as to what she's agreeing to. She's shifts only to be heard better. "Yes. I'll marry you. I want to marry you."
If his friends were here they'd laugh that a woman could actually render him speechless. But they're not and all Aramis can do is wonder if he's daydreaming.
Anne kisses him then. It's chaste and sweet compared to those they've shared in the past but it's enough to convince Aramis that he is indeed awake and the woman he loves has just agreed to marry him.
"I love you." It's the first time either one of them has spoken the words out loud.
"I love you too."
It won't be easy of course. There most certainly will be conditions and costs. But he has his friends, his brothers who will stand by him. And he's going to be a husband and a father. That daylight is more than enough to keep his faith in the darkness.