Authors note: The final chapter is short, so I thought I would pop it up now. Thanks for all the comments and favourites.
Porthos watched Aramis carefully as his friend slowly opened his eyes. The pain he was in was evident straight away. He reached out and stopped Aramis from rolling onto his back, knowing the pain would probably cause him to pass out again. Aramis looked a little unfocused, which Porthos was not surprised at.
Apart from keeping an eye on them both, there was little that could be done to ease either man's suffering. The physician had recommended a salve for the bruising, had strapped up Aramis' fingers and bandaged his grazed wrists before telling them that the two men needed rest.
Porthos smiled at Aramis, 'you stayin' awake this time?' he asked.
Aramis furrowed his brow in confusion.
'You've woken a few times but just drifted off again. I'm guessing it hurts?'
Aramis managed a slight nod before trying to move onto his back again.
'Have you forgotten where your injuries are? You were effectively whipped. Your back is black with bruises. You lie on your back and you are going to scream with pain, stay on your side.'
'D'Artagnan?' asked Aramis quietly.
Porthos nodded once, 'he's still unconscious, he must have been hit pretty hard.'
Aramis nodded. Porthos turned to the small table by the bed Aramis was lying in. He poured a cup of water before tipping the contents of a small vial into the liquid he swirled the water for a few seconds.
'Drink this, the doctor left it for the pain. He said it would probably make you sleep again, but that's probably not a bad thing.'
Aramis shook his head, 'what about Cote and his sons?'
Porthos sighed realising he should have mentioned them already, 'arrested. The younger son confessed, and the father gloated enough in the hearing of the ministers that they are going to see justice for their parts in the hunt...what you did was not in vain.'
Aramis allowed Porthos to give him the pain killing drink.
'Wake me if there's any change with d'Artagnan,' he said as his eyelids drooped.
'I will,' said Porthos with a sad smile.
He looked across to Athos who had watched the exchange from his place next to d'Artagnan.
'He must be bad if he is not trying to see to d'Artagnan,' remarked Athos.
Porthos nodded, 'any signs of him coming around yet?'
'No,' said Athos who sounded despondent. 'But the doctor said it could be a while. I do not like waiting though.'
Aramis had slowly turned himself onto his back, he had waited until Porthos and Athos had left the infirmary to get food. He had woken a few times and gradually been able to cope with the pain and stay awake, but Porthos would not let him lie on his back. As he finally managed it and hissed with pain he appreciated his friend's concern. It really was painful, but now he could look across the room to d'Artagnan who still had not stirred.
The young man had been unconscious for several hours leaving all of them worried. The bruise on his temple standing out starkly, Aramis frowned wishing there was something he could do. The man had willingly helped to act as bait and was now paying the price. Aramis had been injured but at least he was conscious.
A quiet moan from the young Musketeer had Aramis move quickly. He regretted the move instantly, screwing his eye shut and clenching his left fist tightly as he rode out the pain.
'Sorry...I...you...don't pass out again…'
Aramis desperately tried to calm his breathing and open his eyes again. He almost flinched when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He realised it must be d'Artagnan and wondered how long he had been struggling to combat the pain.
As he finally settled down and opened his eyes again, he found d'Artagnan sat on the edge of his bed looking very concerned. Aramis managed a smile.
'I'm meant to be concerned about you...you've been unconscious for hours, you had us worried.'
'I have the worst headache and I'm not entirely sure I will be able to make it back to my bed without help,' d'Artagnan said with the ghost of a smile.
Aramis reached up and rested his hand on d'Artagnan's arm, 'don't keel over on me, I'm not really up to helping you back there.'
D'Artagnan's eyes shifted to look at Aramis' hand and his strapped-up fingers.
'You had to,' reassured Aramis, guessing what his friend was thinking.
D'Artagnan frowned, 'I hated it…'
'But we got them,' said Aramis, 'apparently the younger son told Porthos everything and Cote spoke openly to the older son as well.'
'You weren't aware of what was going on?'
'They whipped me with a curtain tie back, I'm not going to be sprightly for some time. I was out by the time the Ministers had heard enough.'
D'Artagnan pulled a sympathetic face.
'I guess it was worth it…'
'It won't be worth it if you fall over and injure yourself,' said Porthos from the door.
Aramis rolled his eyes, d'Artagnan managed a smile in return.
'Don't blame him for moving, it was my fault, he was worried about me.'
Porthos eased d'Artagnan up to stand and walked him the couple of yards back to his bed before laying the blankets over him with a shake of his head.
'It's normally him who tries getting about too soon,' admonished Porthos with a glance at Aramis. 'How do you feel? You're obviously going to be alright but how do you feel right now?'
D'Artagnan smiled, 'dizzy, nauseous...really bad…'
'Honesty,' remarked Porthos with a glance at Aramis, 'you should take note.'
'I have no intention of pretending I'm better than I am at the moment-'
'Only because you physically can't move without crying at the moment,' pointed out Porthos with a smirk.
They looked towards the door as both Treville and Athos entered.
'You're awake d'Artagnan,' said Treville with a smile, 'you look awful, but you are awake.'
D'Artagnan managed a smile in return. Aramis could tell he enjoyed the gentle teasing from his Captain.
'I have news from the Palace,' continued Treville, as he pulled a chair up to sit between his two injured Musketeers.
'Ministers Paget and Levesque spoke to the King. They told him all that had happened. The King was, understandably, enraged that you were hurt within the walls of the Palace, despite the fact that was our plan. Cote and his older son will face punishment for their part in the hunts and for what they did to you both today. The younger son, Pierre, will be sent on his way. I believe the young man may take his vows and join a monastery, he seemed very contrite when I saw him as I left. The King was merciful on the young man.'
'Good,' said Porthos, 'he was like a frightened rabbit when I spoke to him.'
Treville nodded, 'the other thing I have to tell you two is that if you come across any more of the hunters the King has agreed that your word will be enough to lead to their arrest.'
D'Artagnan frowned, 'what do you mean?'
Aramis guessed the injured man was struggling to concentrate due to his concussion.
'I mean, that the King does not want to see you both injured in order to bring any more of the hunters to justice. He has made it clear to his courtiers that any further persecution against you both will be met with a high price. The courtiers and nobles will pass that information on, it will, hopefully, reach the ears of those involved in the hunts and they will leave you alone.'
'Unless they get taken without us knowing about it again,' said Porthos.
'I know, Porthos,' replied Treville, 'there will continue to be a risk, but hopefully that risk will be reduced now that the hunters know that if they are caught, they will be dealt with severely.'
'It's not ideal,' said Aramis, 'but it will do.'
He looked across to d'Artagnan who was struggling to keep his eyes open. Treville followed his gaze and smiled.
'I'll leave you both to rest, you've earned it.'
Athos saw the Captain out before returning to sit beside d'Artagnan's bed. The young musketeer had fallen asleep. Aramis found that he was struggling to stay awake as well.
'We ain't going anywhere,' said Porthos, 'I'll protect you for the next couple of days.'
Porthos grinned, Aramis managed to focus on him for a few seconds.
'I would expect nothing less.'
Authors note: I hope you enjoyed it. I'm working on another longer one based on the Whumptober prompts that some of you wanted expanding. Watch this space… ;-)