Hey, I am back with my very last chapter of "Facing the Storm".
Funny this will be my first story I actually can mark as complete, after starting to write fanfiction in February this year.
Thank you so much for reading and leaving a review.
Three days later
Tréville quietly entered the infirmary and paused at the door, watching his newest Musketeer's chest rising and falling. Athos had been very lucky. The Captain had given Porthos and Aramis several days off to take care of their injured comrade, who as expected, spent most of the time asleep, as the doctor had told him. In his waking moments Porthos and Aramis helped Athos to drink enough tea and broth and also to eat some vegetables and fruits. Without complaining they helped to clean his body when needed and Athos endured it either with silence or with an angry glare.
Now after three days he still looked pale, but the pain in his side had finally eased. Soon he knew they would have to deal with another problem. Athos hadn't drunk alcohol for two days and Aramis feared that his body would begin to display withdrawal symptoms, but thus far they hadn't come which made him consider if Athos really had a problem with heavy drinking or if it was something else which drove Athos to drink.
"It's better to give him small amounts of wine in the evening." Tréville had ordered them. "Than see him suffering even more." He had added. And they would follow his advice if Athos asked for wine, but again thus far he hadn't.
Aramis, who was sitting next to Athos was now standing up to greet his Captain.
"How is he?" Tréville asked.
"Better than he has been for days." Aramis smiled. "We soon will need to bind him on his bed, because he wants to stand up and walk around on his own, but his body is still too weak." He shook his head smiled fondly at his patient and chuckled quietly. "Give him some more days, after that he should start with light practice. He will need a stick for a while." He added.
"I know." Tréville answered quietly.
They both heard a loud sound and turned their heads towards the patient. Athos had woken up from their talk and had tried to reach for a cup filled with water, but he had misjudged the distance and the cup fell clattering to the floor and burst in shards.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled tiredly, while Aramis hurried next to his side and put the shards away.
"Do you want to drink something?"
"Some water would be good."
Before Aramis could go, Tréville fetched a fresh cup and poured some water in it.
"Here you are." The Captain stepped next to Athos and handed him the cup.
"Captain?" Athos looked up in surprise.
"Are you up for a visitor?" He asked.
"Please sit." Athos answered quietly.
Aramis, who sensed that both men needed some time alone, mumbled something like going to the kitchen and left.
"How are you, Athos?"
"Much better, Captain." Athos tried to sit up, but Tréville prevented it, by pressing his chest gently down on the mattress.
"Stay like this, your body is still weak and needs more rest."
"Did Aramis say that?" Athos asked.
"Him, Porthos, the palace doctor and me." A smile appeared on Tréville's face, then he continued in a more severe tone. "You had me worried, Athos."
"That wasn't my intention. I'm sorry, Cap …" Athos wanted to continue, but Tréville raised his other hand in order to give him a sign to stop apologising.
"Your job is to heal." He said. "No need to apologise."
"But." Athos tried to protest and again Tréville raised his hand.
"Hear me out first. I've talked with Porthos and he told me what you did in order to save his life."
"There was no other chance." Athos mumbled.
"There are always other chances, but I know what you mean, I've seen the corridor where you fought with the bandits. It was either that you would be injured and most likely to survive or Porthos being shot in his chest, the bullet would have highly likely hit his heart."
"I had not much time to think about it." Athos quietly admitted. "Although I would do it again, if I can save him or another comrade this way." He said.
"I know." Tréville sighed. "You are a skilled soldier, you are following orders and protecting your comrades."
He paused and Athos could hear already the "but" hanging in the air and he stayed silent, while he watched with his green eyes his commanding officer more closely, who now searched for the correct words in order not to startle his injured soldier.
Maybe I should wait and come another time again. He still looks very pale and weak.
"I accept every punishment, Captain from stable duty to cleaning chamber pots, but please let me stay." The young man suddenly said in the silence.
"What makes you think that I want you to leave?" Tréville curiously asked.
"Because I acted against your direct order, I was a disgrace for the regiment."
"Are we still talking about your first mission?" Tréville now asked slightly amused, slightly taken aback, that Athos feared he would throw him out.
"No." Athos silently admitted. "About me being drunk by morning muster, for that I truly apologise and accept each punishment.
"I considered two weeks stable duty." Tréville told him.
"So I will start as soon as I'm allowed to walk again."
"You won't do it."
"Why not?" Athos looked confused. "I did wrong I have to."
"Aramis and Porthos came to me and volunteered to do it for you and I accepted their offer."
Athos fell silent, while struggling to find the right words.
"They shouldn't, it was me …" He stammered.
"But they offered it and I expected nothing less from them. Your duty will be to rest and heal properly, do you hear me?"
"Yes, Sir! Thank you." Athos barely audible said.
"Perhaps I can do something instead?" He offered.
"Yes, you can."
Athos tried to sit up again and this time Tréville helped him up and put some pillows behind his back.
"Tell me why you did it?"
"What? Porthos was in danger, I thought you understood that I had no other chance."
"Not about that, tell me why you got so drunk that night?"
Athos fell silent again and briefly closed his eyes and Tréville knew that it had been too early.
"I can't." He barely audible whispered.
"I already thought that." Tréville sighed.
"Was it because of a personal reason?"
He asked cautiously and Athos quietly nodded, feeling his face become reddish and using all his strength to hide his emotions.
"I see, you can't tell me, but promise me to talk with a friend or friends about it." Tréville told him. "Can you do this?"
"I already have."
Athos muttered silently, feeling suddenly very tired, he tried to suppress a yawn, but Tréville noticed it nevertheless.
"Good, that's all I ask for, now you should sleep."
He helped Athos to lie down again. Then he stood up, but he stopped when Athos reached his hand out for his, and he gently grabbed it only to feel a firm handshake from Athos.
"Thank you, Captain." Athos whispered.
After that Athos' hand went limp and his young soldier had fallen asleep again. Over the past days Aramis had given Athos pain draughts, which had the effect on Athos that he still couldn't concentrate very long or stay awake for longer than several minutes. This way the medic hoped that Athos' wish for something stronger to reduce the pain and laudanum wouldn't start at all.
Tréville wasn't sure if Athos would ask for more laudanum, but the fact that Aramis started to worry showed him that the medic must know more about Athos' past than he had found out by now. The Captain of the Musketeer watched Athos' closed eyes, his soft breathing, then he bent over his ear.
"You are more than welcome, my son." Tréville whispered putting his hand gently under the blanket.
He watched over his sleeping Musketeer until Porthos arrived to take his turn. He greeted him, then stood up and left. On his way out he suddenly had to smile. His plan had worked, by ordering Porthos and Aramis to take good care of his newest recruit and now Musketeer, they had not only become friends, but brothers.
From the first moment he had met Athos in a tavern, where he had saved his life, he had sworn to help this troubled young man. He had no idea when they had become friends, he assumed the night at the abandoned château was the reason, but he was glad that Athos finally had found brothers, he could talk to.
After storm there comes always sun. You simply needed others to show you, Athos. He thought. There's still hope after all that I can form you into a fine Musketeer and officer one day.
Tréville walked up the stairs to the balcony and his office, inside he put his hat on his bed and walked over to his desk, which was covered with reports about the robbery, a suspicion that the Pope in Rome could have something to do with it, but no real proof yet. The bodies of the dead raiders had been cut open to search for the missing diamonds, their clothes had been searched three more times by different Musketeers and Tréville even had sent another group of Musketeers back to the château to search for the stones, but all these attempts hadn't brought anything.
The expensive stones were still missing. The stones had been sent via the Dutch tradesman to Paris and the Court in order to give them to a highly respected expert, who should put them on a Crown for the new King of England*. Henrietta-Maria had convinced her husband that the best jeweller was working at the Court of her brother Louis. Now some small diamonds were still missing, which could cause great trouble between England and France.
With a loud sigh Tréville shoved all those papers aside. He needed to get rid of the picture in his mind of a very upset and angry Louis. He went to his cupboard and retrieved the page, where he had dated all the facts he had known so far about Athos. He returned to his desk, reached for quill and ink and started to write down what he had found out during the past three days.
The link with the name's day had been the important hint, without knowing what Athos had told Aramis and Porthos who respected his privacy, he had started to look through old death notifications in the office of the magistrate and church books. Looking up all names of dead nobleman and their sons, who had died in the past five years. Finally he had found a name. The late Comte de la Fère had two sons Olivier, his first born and Thomas his second. Behind Thomas name someone had signed a cross, the same sign was behind the name of the father of the two sons. It was the usual sign to mark people who were already deceased.
With this information he had asked around at the Court about the whereabouts of the young Comte, Olivier. It had taken him two more days, more than one livre, but in the end an old man, who had lived at Pinon, reached out to him and told him, that Olivier d'Athos de la Fère had left his manor several months ago, after his brother had been murdered.
"How was he killed? Tréville had wondered.
"About what I've heard he was knifed … a dagger in his heart." The man had told him.
"Did they ever found out who has killed him?" Tréville had asked.
"I have no proof, but there are rumours."
"What kind of rumours? Has Olivier killed his brother?" Tréville had asked carefully.
"God behave, he would have never been able to do this, he loved his younger brother. I have to go back and ask around," the old man had told him, "I don't want to suggest something that is wrong." Tréville had let him go.
Finally he had a name. It had to be him, a first born son of a noble family and the identical name Athos plus the name Thomas of his younger brother was proof for him enough. The way the swordsman acted and his age fitted as well. Tréville thought he remembered from earlier times that he had met his father years ago at Court, and they looked similar: the nose, the eyes, the mouth, however of course he could have made that all up.
Captain Tréville wrote all the names down he had found out so far. Now wasn't the time to confront Athos with it, but one day, when he was ready he would ask him. The last that he wrote was the date when Athos had been commissioned in June 1625 by the King and after the numbers he wrote:
Olivier d'Athos, Comte de la Fère, soldier of the King's Musketeers.
*The coronation of Charles I. took place on the 2nd February 1626.
The fact that the coronation was later than the wedding brought me to the idea about the diamonds being delivered to France. I invented the part of the jeweller, I am sure King Charles had very good jewellers in England as well ;-)
That's the end of the first part of a three part series I intend to write, if I find enough time and real life will allow me to do it. All three parts shall concentrate on the story how Aramis, Porthos and Athos became the Inséperables.
The second part will focus on Porthos and the third part will deal with Savoy and of course will focus then on Aramis. Nevertheless Athos will play an important role in all three stories and we will see Marsac again.
I am well aware that I leave you with several questions:
Who has taken/stolen the diamonds?
Was there another bandit hiding in the château, who managed to get away unharmed?
Was it Marsac? And if … why?
Or is there a completely other explanation to it?
Will Aramis and Porthos be able to help Athos to overcome his drinking problem and what is with the laudanum bottle the doctor left next to Athos' bed?
Will Athos and Marsac find a way to overcome their differences?
I would be delighted to read and hear from you. Thank you so much for all your reviews, because they really motivate me to continue to write.
I would have never been able to finish this story without the help of two dear friends, who helped me with proofreading and medical input. All remaining mistakes are mine!
Thank you Helen for proofreading ch 1&2 and your medical input!
Thank you Beth for proofreading all 12 chapters and helping me with re-formulating phrases or using different words and of course spotting my many mistakes!