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Aramis held his drink to his lips, hesitating as he listened to his beloved Anne talk about the people of France, and how many of them need better lives.
"Some of them are forced to live out there, on the streets," she was saying, pausing sometimes to take bites of her delicious food. "Many of them are just children!"
"Anne, we will do whatever we can to help those children, if that is what you wish," said Aramis, finally taking his first sip of wine.
The Queen smiled at her lover. "Thank you, Aramis," she said.
In truth, Anne loved having dinner with Aramis. Not only was this because she really wanted to be with him, but also because he was so easy to talk to. He was always so supportive, and always wanted to her her with anything and everything. Anne was just so grateful for having him at her side, and thanked God every night for giving him to her. Until he came along, she had never had such devoted and loyal followers. And that was one of the reasons she loved him.
Aramis never judged her. From the moment they met, he gave her more respect than anyone's ever given her. But it was not because she was the Queen of France. It was because she was just … her. Anne treasured that more than anything.
When the both of them were finished eating, Aramis stood up and walked over to Anne. He took her hands in his own and planted a gentle kiss to her cheek.
Anne smiled and blushed, squeezing his hand in thanks.
The man was about to kiss her again when he fell terribly dizzy. He pulled away from Anne and closed his eyes. He swallowed and wet his lips, his mouth suddenly dry.
"Aramis?" Anne asked, placing her hands on his fore arms to keep him steady.
Aramis only grunted in return. He opened his eyes, but it seemed that h is dizzyness had only gotten worse. He felt himself hit the ground, felt his unnaturally warm skin hit the cool tiles of the Palace dining room floor. He quickly closed his eyes again.
Amme's voice echoed through his head, fading away by each passing second.
"Oh God, Aramis, what is going on?"
He felt arms wrapping around him, somebody undressing him, and then he felt himself lying in his bed, the one he and the Queen had shared on so many occasions.
"'M fine," he mumbled, trying to push someone's probing hands away. But in reality, he most certainly did not feel…
"Doctor, what is this?" asked Anne, her eyes never straying away from Aramis' struggling form. "Why is he like this"
The medic, a tall man, maybe thirty years of age, stood up and shook his head. "I am afraid, Your Majesty," he began. "That the First Minister had been poisoned with something. And it will probably get worse."
"What symptoms will he have?" Anne questioned. A cold feeling began seeping into her heart. "Is it deadly?"
"I am not sure," the medic replied. "Perhaps if I knew what he drank before this, and if I could see what he drank out of, then maybe I could find out more. As for the symptoms … Anything could be possible. Right now we only hope and pray for the best. Hope that it will leave his system as quickly as it came."
Anne took a deep breath, placing the back of her hand against her forehead. "I will get you the cup he drank from. Hopefully it has not been washed yet." She paused. "Thank you, Doctor."
"The First Minister is a good man," the doctor said. "We often have fun talking about all kinds of medical nonsense. I will do everything I can to help him." He smiled, as if remembering… "And please, Your Highness, just call me John."
Anne returned the smile. "Alright," she said. "Thank you, John."
"Just doing my duty, both as a doctor … and as a friend."
John was right: Aramis did get worse.
Within a couple of hours after the doctor had left, Aramis developed a nasty fever, along with chills. He was shaking nonstop, even with multiple layers of blankets on top of him.
Anne stayed with him the entire night, only leaving to put her - their - son to bed. It was so hard to keep herself calm when Louis asked for Aramis, his real father. To try and keep him in bed, Anne lied and said that Aramis was incredibly busy and needed to work. She felt ashamed of herself for feeling glad when Louis believed her.
When she came back to Aramis' room, Anne immediately saw that the poor man had grown restless, and was now tossing his head from side to side, clear uncomfort written all over his, still, handsome face.
"Oh, Aramis," whispered Anne, taking one of his hands. She began rubbing her thumb over his calloused knuckle, hoping that it would somehow sooth him. "Please come back to me soon."
When Aramis finally did wake, he was weak, barely even able to pick up his hand to touch her. "Wha' … happen'd?" he whispered, closing his eyes when the dizziness took over him again.
"You have been poisoned," Anne explained, her voice somehow steady. "We do not know by what. Doctor John Hughes will do his best to find out. Then, hopefully, we will be able to find out who did this to you. How are you feeling?"
Aramis winced as he tried to sit up and failed. He sighed quietly, opening his tired eyes to look at Anne. "I'm alright," he said softly. "I'll be fine-"
He coughed suddenly, using his sleeve to suppress it.
What neither of them expected was to find Aramis' blood staining his shirt when he took it away from his mouth. Aramis' eyes widened, his mind barely able to process what he was seeing. "What is happening to me?" he asked, wiping more blood off his mouth.
"I will get the doctor, Aramis," said Anne. Her voice was filled with fear. "I will be right back."
After checking up on Aramis again, and finding nothing that could tell him about the poison, John left once more to study the contents of what his patient had drank before.
"The poison should leave his system within a week," he had explained to Anne. "I cannot help him, but I would suggest you give him the medicine I gave you. It should help in at least some way."
Anne agreed and promised to give Aramis the medicine.
Once John had left the room, she walked over to her lover's bed and sat down. She cupped Aramis' face with her hand, smiling slightly when he leaned into her touch. "Is there anything you need before I retire?" she asked him. She really did not want to him any longer…
"Please … Stay."
Those two words practically made Anne's heart shatter into a million pieces. Slowly and carefully, Anne undressed, and then slipped under the covers, pressing her body closer to Aramis' trembling form. Shaking felt his arms weakly wrapping around her, and she quickly took one of his hands and brought it to her chest.
"You will get through this, Aramis," she heard herself say. "Know that everything will be alright." She kissed his hand, as if trying to assure him.
But Aramis could clearly see that she was just trying to assure herself. Because she was even more terrified than him. So instead of saying anything, he just kissed the top of her head and shut his eyes. "Sleep," he murmuring. "You need it."
Anne was quick to obey. She forced herself to focus on Aramis', now, raspy breathing, trying hard not to pay attention to how hard he was shaking.
Dear God, please spare him, she said to herself. I cannot lose him. I cannot.