Disclaimer: I do not own the Musketeers or any of the characters affiliated with them. If I did, it would never have been cancelled and there would have been way more episodes about Aramis ;)
Author's Note: While I embrace constructive criticism remember this old saying if you choose to leave a review "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"
Here we are again with an entry into September's Fete des Mousquetaires Challenge. This month, the prompt was "annoyances" and well, this fit in perfectly with my own head-canon about Aramis and injury so here we are with a suitable tasting of h/c, whump, and angst. This is my first time every doing a 5+1 type thing and it was fun, but the chapters vary in length so...there's that.
This ficlet, as all of mine do, fits into a larger Musketeers universe that I'm crafting. The first multi-chapter fic of that 'verse is nearing the end of the beta process and then it'll be coming to you! So when you see mentions of characters that you don't know yet, well, that's why.
As always, enormous thanks to my wonderful beta Arlothia for her time, patience, and help to make these fics better than they would be without her!
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.
What a mess this day had been. Sent straight from the deepest bowels of hell, no doubt. What other sort of day would bring with it two assassination attempts within six short hours of each other? Mercifully, it was finally coming to an end. The king was safe; the threats dealt with. All that was left was to see to his men.
Treville moved wearily away from the king's chambers towards the ante room where his Musketeers were waiting. They had proven their worth today. For the first time since the birth of their regiment a few weeks prior, the five men chosen to serve as the king's personal guard had truly been put to the test.
They had performed admirably; more than admirably. They had excelled beyond expectation. They had shown everyone, especially the doubtful Cardinal, why they had been chosen and, more importantly, why the Musketeers were needed in the first place.
Treville's spine straightened and his chin lifted with pride as he strode through the doorway that led to his men.
They were spread throughout the room with varying degrees of visible weariness.
Etienne, arms crossed over his chest, leaned back against a pillar. His hat was pulled low over his eyes and his chin was almost touching his chest.
Dujon was pacing, as he tended to, but with a weary droop to his shoulders. And there was a measured purpose to each step as if he had to focus on each movement of his feet.
Thierry stood in a loose version of attention with a hand on his sword hilt, his fingers idly drumming against the pommel. But the slow, blank way he was blinking spoke to his exhaustion.
Tristan leaned sideways against the doorframe opposite the one Treville was entering through. His arms were also crossed over his chest and his eyes were closed, though the tension in his posture suggested he was very much awake.
Lastly, he looked at Aramis. The young Musketeer rested with a shoulder against the room's only window. His hands idly fiddled with the brim of his hat and his gaze remained fixed on the gardens outside. There was something stiff about his posture that had Treville's eyes narrowing. But then, there was something stiff about all of their postures.
It had been a very long day indeed.
"You did well today, all of you. I know the day was trying and not without its pains," he eyed the dried blood on Tristan's temple, "but I trust you've all survived it."
"Fine and fit, Captain," Thierry replied jauntily, a weary smirk turning up the corner of his mouth. "Nothing but a few sore ribs on my end."
"A knock to the head was the worst of it," Tristan put in.
Treville narrowed his gaze at him.
"But of course, I'll have Henri look me over to be certain," Tristan hastily added.
"How is that knee?" Treville asked Etienne with a nod towards the offending joint.
"A few days' rest and it'll be right as rain," the other man replied.
"Dujon?" Treville called for the man's attention and he dutifully stopped pacing to meet the captain's eyes.
"Nothing but weary. Could likely sleep for a week after this day."
"And yet you keep pacing," Thierry teased.
Dujon made a rude gesture with his hand and Treville sighed.
"Gentlemen," he scolded firmly before turning his attention to their youngest.
Aramis, though his body was still angled towards the window, had turned his head to regard them all as they spoke. His fingers still restlessly played with the brim of his hat.
"And you?" Treville prodded.
Aramis blinked at him, as if surprised to be asked.
"Nothing but annoyances, Captain," he replied dutifully.
"Have Henri see to your 'annoyances' and then all of you get some rest. You're dismissed."
He watched them all file out of the room and then sighed wearily as he scrubbed a hand through his hair. He would need to speak to the palace guard about their rotations for the night. Then he would join his men.
It was late when Treville finally arrived at the old butcher shop that served as their temporary command post while a new garrison was being built. He was expecting a quiet arrival and for all the men to be sleeping. Instead, every one of them was awake and displaying palpable worry in the main room.
Etienne had his arms tightly crossed over his chest, fingers drumming restlessly against his biceps as he shifted from foot to foot.
Dujon was pacing again, but this time with a restless agitation.
Thierry was pacing too, but it seemed more like a prowl, as if searching for something to take his worry out on.
Tristan stood hovering near the far door that led to Henri's quarters and their makeshift infirmary.
Aramis was nowhere to be seen.
"What's happened?" Treville asked sharply when none of them even seemed to notice his arrival.
It was Thierry who answered, still stalking restlessly around the room.
"The boy collapsed the moment we stepped across the threshold."
"Not a word of warning," Etienne bit out. "One moment fine, the next sprawled in a gangly heap."
Treville felt a brow creep up doubtfully. If he'd truly been 'fine', then Aramis wouldn't have collapsed at all.
"It seems his 'annoyances' were actually two stab wounds," Tristan explained darkly as he glanced over his shoulder at Treville.
"What?!" Treville snapped.
How had none of them noticed?
"In his side. He'd stuffed an old shirt into his doublet to slow the bleeding," Thierry expounded. "Probably the only reason he was able to carry on as long as he did."
Treville stood stock still for a moment, hardly believing the evening had taken such a drastic turn. Then, without a word, he stalked past all of them and into Henri's quarters. He shut the door firmly behind him and approached the room's two occupants. The old physician was leaning over Aramis, who was sickly pale and unconscious.
"Henri?" Treville asked simply.
"He'll live," Henri assured immediately. "The wounds weren't overly deep. He lost a fair bit of blood, but the wounds are closed. Provided he avoids infection he'll be just fine." The physician moved away from where Aramis lay towards the door, no doubt intending to update the other four Musketeers on their friend's state.
After the door closed, Treville let out a slow, relieved breath and knelt next to the cot. He rested a hand on Aramis' unruly hair and was startled with the young soldier immediately stirred. When his brown eyes finally opened and focused on Treville, the captain made sure to keep his face stern and uncompromising.
"Annoyances?" he demanded lowly.
Aramis grimaced, eyes cutting away guiltily.
"Look at me, soldier," Treville commanded.
Reluctantly, brown met blue again.
"Care to explain yourself?"
It wasn't really a request.
"I didn't want to worry anyone," Aramis confessed. But Treville narrowed his eyes doubtfully. Aramis was an excellent liar, but Treville was learning to see beyond the façade. Something in the excuse didn't quite ring true.
"Try again," he suggested with a stern scowl.
Aramis huffed, looking annoyed.
"You realize you might have died?" Treville pointed out. "Then where would we be?"
"In need of a new marksman?"
Treville resisted the urge to reach out and shake him, barely. If Aramis didn't still look so weak and tired despite his cavalier attitude, he might have given into the impulse.
"Why would you conceal this?" Treville demanded. "What possible reason could there be?"
Aramis stubbornly stared straight up at the ceiling, mouth clamped closed.
"I didn't want to be weak!" Aramis blurted. Then, after a frustrated huff, "It was no less than I deserved anyway."
Treville raised both eyebrows in surprise and then shook his head, trying to decide which awful statement to address first.
"First of all, admitting to injury does not equate to weakness. Whoever told you it did was wrong."
Aramis wasn't looking at him, the boy's jaw was resolutely clenched shut and his entire body was thrumming with tension. Treville sighed, rubbed at his weary eyes and then rested a gentle hand on Aramis' shoulder.
"Aramis," he called softly, waiting until the young soldier reluctantly turned to meet his gaze. "Whoever told you that was wrong."
But Treville could see in the boy's eyes that this was a lesson learned too completely. Whoever had taught it to him had made sure he learned it well.
A battle for another time, though.
"And why on earth would you deserve to be stabbed?"
There was guilt in the marksman's eyes again as he reluctantly confessed,
"I let him get past me."
Confusion turned down the corners of Treville's mouth.
"Who? The man who stabbed you? The second assassin?"
"I should have stopped him. If I had, Tristan wouldn't have been hurt. Perhaps my replacement should have more close combat experience."
"Your replace… Aramis, you do realize he got past Etienne and Dujon before he even got to you?"
"Should I replace them too?" Treville asked, waving a hand in exasperation.
Aramis' frown developed into a full scowl.
"If you are that uncertain of your place here then I've failed you."
"What? No, you haven't," Aramis jumped quickly to Treville defense.
"If you think yourself so easily replaced, then I have."
"But I failed." He said it like that alone should be reason to take away his uniform and send him back to the infantry.
"What you did was break the bastard's ribs, which weakened him enough that Tristan was able to stop him despite the head wound he suffered."
Aramis snapped his mouth closed against whatever argument he'd been about to offer. He obviously hadn't thought about it that way.
"You're not being replaced, now or ever." Treville felt like he needed to make that point crystal clear. "Now get some rest. You've got four brothers to answer to about why you collapsed on them with no warning and you better give them a better reason than you gave me."
Aramis slid a wary glance at the closed door.
"I'll hold them off till morning," Treville promised as he stood. "But then you're on your own."
"You'd abandon me to their mercy?" Aramis blinked at him with impossibly wide, innocent eyes.
Treville started for the door, answering over his shoulder.
End of Chapter 1
This is 6 chapters in total and since the challenge ends on the 30th, we will have 2 chapters today, 2 tomorrow, and 2 on the 30th so that it's all up by the deadline but not all thrust upon you at once.
Thanks for reading! Hope you take a moment to let me know what you think!