The journey back to the garrison had been unpleasant for the injured men, but Aramis particularly suffered. He had clearly been hiding a concussion. By the time the rickety cart had stopped in the garrison yard Aramis was sitting with his head bowed and his eyes screwed shut. It had taken Athos several minutes to coax the man off the cart.
The local people had proved to be very helpful. The old woman had organised the cart, driven by an equally old man. The man with the scar across his jaw had helped Porthos to secure Robert. When the man had come around they had already bound and gagged him.
The scarred man had told Porthos he had not been there when the group of thugs had turned up at the building and thrown the occupants out. The man had said that if he had been there, with a few of his friends they may have been able to prevent the takeover. But once Robert had moved in with his men they could not oust him.
Now, back at the garrison, Athos wanted to concentrate on his friends and not dwell on the poor and destitute of the city.
Porthos had helped d'Artagnan into the infirmary and was busy helping the man to undress. It was a slow painful process for d'Artagnan who winced frequently and tried not to cry out in pain.
Athos settled Aramis on the edge of the next bed. The marksman leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, he had shut his eyes again.
'Take your doublet off then lie down, we need to see to your arm.'
Aramis did not move, Athos gently pushed him up and began unbuttoning the jacket himself before easing it off his friend. Aramis allowed Athos to lie him down on his side and remained where he was.
Athos looked across to Porthos who had resorted to ripping d'Artagnan's shirt off him. D'Artagnan was looking over at Aramis with concern.
'He's concussed, the ride in that cart did not help,' said Athos.
'His back…' said d'Artagnan quietly.
Athos nodded and leaned forward to pull Aramis' shirt up.
'Well that ain't 'elping him,' said Porthos as he took in the darkening bruises across his friends back, 'he's gonna be stiff for weeks.'
'He, is right here,' said Aramis quietly through clenched teeth.
'Sorry,' said Athos, 'have you got any of your pain killing herbs?'
Aramis nodded slightly screwing his eyes up tighter.
Once Athos had forced Aramis to drink the foul-tasting pain killing drink, the marksman had laid back down and fallen asleep within a few minutes. Athos turned his attention to helping Porthos.
D'Artagnan was still looking at Aramis with concern.
'This is gonna hurt,' said Porthos as he reached for the alcohol.
Athos had moved to d'Artagnan's other side and was firmly holding him down as Porthos worked. Despite his best efforts as soon as Porthos began to stitch the wound d'Artagnan passed out.
'Probably for the best,' said Athos as he smoothed stray hairs from the injured man's face.
The knife had sliced across d'Artagnan's side leaving a wound several inches long. It was not very deep much to Athos' relief, but the man would be unable to move much without being in pain. His friend was a sorry sight, his chest was covered in bruises, a nasty cut above his eye was covered in dried crusted blood. Bruises covered much of his face. There were a couple of shallow cuts to his arms and rope burns marked both of his wrists.
Athos collected water and cloths to clean his friend up, wiping away dirt and blood and dressing the worst of the scrapes and grazes.
'Robert certainly had his fun,' remarked Porthos as continued stitching.
Athos nodded, 'I can understand his need for vengeance, but this was not the way to go about it.'
'He's a fugitive, he could 'ardly walk into the garrison and ask Aramis for a duel, could he?'
Athos had to concede Porthos' point.
'I just wish he hadn't hurt d'Artagnan,' said Aramis quietly from his bed.
The marksman was facing away from them, Athos had not realised their friend had woken up.
'But you did not deserve to be hurt either...what happened to George was not your fault, you know that. He was trying to kill you, you had no choice.'
Aramis did not respond. Athos moved back around the beds so that he could look his friend in the eyes. The bruise on Aramis' cheek had darkened, the man still looked pained.
'We need to stitch your arm, Porthos is nearly finished with d'Artagnan,' Athos said as he pulled up a chair and sat beside the bed.
Aramis looked at the scarf wrapped around his arm, 'I wasn't quick enough to stop him from stabbing d'Artagnan…'
'But you did stop Robert from killing him.'
Aramis nodded, 'he is an angry man.'
Athos nodded as he began to unwind his scarf from Aramis' arm. Robert was a fugitive, he was a bad man, but he was also a man who had lost his brother. And loss made people behave in ways they might not normally. Athos was sure the fugitive would not have risked everything otherwise.
D'Artagnan slowly opened his eyes, the room had been left dimly lit, but he could see light creeping around the shutters. Very slowly he pushed himself up to sit, unable to suppress a hiss of pain as he did so.
He looked across to the table where there was evidence of a meal having been eaten. He guessed Athos and Porthos had stayed with them. D'Artagnan looked across to Aramis lying on the bed next to him. The marksman was lying on his back although he did not look particularly comfortable.
'How are you feeling?'
'My head hurts and my back hurts but otherwise…'
D'Artagnan smirked, 'it must be bad if you are being honest.'
Aramis managed a smile, 'you?' he asked.
'Like I've had a run-in with an angry bull...did you see the size of those men?'
Aramis' eyes widened a little, 'so Robert didn't beat you himself, he had one of those brutes do it?'
D'Artagnan nodded, 'to be honest I'm not sure I would have been able to take the man on and win. I don't think they really needed to tie me down.'
'They nearly got the better of Athos and Porthos...you should see the bruise on Athos' wrist where one of them grabbed him.'
'Where are they?'
'Treville took them off to tell him the details of what happened.'
Aramis pushed himself up to sit, he was about to swing his legs off the bed when d'Artagnan glared at him.
'What are you doing? You shouldn't be getting up.'
'I was only going to get you some water...believe me, I'm not ready to move about too much.'
'That cart seemed to find every pothole didn't it...I'm not surprised it made your headache worse.'
Aramis had managed to stand slowly. He poured water into two cups, handing one to d'Artagnan who dutifully drank. D'Artagnan watched as Aramis slowly lowered himself back onto his bed.
'I'm sorry this happened to you,' the marksman said.
D'Artagnan sighed, 'I'm sure Athos and Porthos have already told you, probably several times, that this is not your fault. Do I need to tire myself out telling you as well?'
Aramis looked across to d'Artagnan and shook his head.
'No...I know it wasn't really my fault, but I still feel responsible.'
'Well don't. I'm injured, and I don't want to be worrying about you blaming yourself.'
Aramis smiled, d'Artagnan was pleased to see it was genuine and not just for his benefit.
'I will forgo any self-blame then, for your sake.'
'Thank you...and thank you for coming to my rescue.'
Authors note: I hope you enjoyed it. As always, thanks for the reviews.
I have another piece nearly finished but I won't be able to start posting it until a week on Friday as I am working the weekend and then working at the other end of the county next week, meaning my commute will be somewhat longer than normal, basically, I won't have the time. Boo.