This is the final chapter. Ironically this was the hardest chapter to write even though the characters have the most interaction with each other (re Queenie interacting with a musketeers). Because we see their relationship a lot more and can understand the ties there more I wanted to do something a little different. I hope you like.
Set During 3x10 (Flashback pre-109)
Even the fresh air still smelt like smoke. Aramis slowly swung his gaze across the still-smouldering shell of the former garrison. There was nothing to save of the structure. All of their belongings, their tools, their equipment was gone.
All that remained were a few survivors that had called it home and they would be less still by the time night fell.
A loud bang echoed behind him. His pistol was already in hand before he registered the palace garb the men drawing the cart wore. He flashed them a reassuring smile even as he silently chastised himself. Since Louis' death, the impending invasion, the dauphin's – the king's – abduction, Treville's death and Grimaud's attack on the wake and the garrison, Aramis couldn't remember the last time he'd had a moment's rest, let alone actual sleep. Not that it was an excuse, neither had anyone else. And there was no justification for his senses being so dulled or distracted. He should have heard the cart long before it arrived.
He nodded wearily at the men, forcing himself to focus as he examined the supplies. Faint relief tinged through his exhausted body. The blankets could be used as such or cut up for excess bandages. The wine was of excellent quality, but he wouldn't hesitate to use it to clean the wounds if possible. The food may not help the injured much yet, but it would ensure those caring for them remained nourished.
"You're the musketeer named Aramis, right?"
Aramis nodded as the older one tapped his hand against a wooden box. "Her Majesty said to make sure you or Madame D'Artagnan got this. She said it was very important."
Curious – and longing to have any connection to the woman he loved – Aramis opened the chest. The memories assaulted him as soon as he realised the contents.
Aramis straightened at the approaching footsteps. "Is there something wrong Your Majesty?" Even as he spoke, he surveyed the area. Her ladies sat on a pleasant grassy hill not far from the carriage, Athos knelt nearby preparing a fire for lunch with the help of the coachmen. D'Artgnan tended to the horses at the stream. Porthos was beside their youngest refilling their waterskins. All of them were as relaxed and unalarmed as could be expected. They had stopped for lunch at a meadow. The road was known to be reasonably safe and the area around them was mostly fields and farms. Any potential threat would be seen for miles.
"What is that?" He looked down at the box in his hands, tilting it so she could see it better.
"I use it for provisions Your Majesty. Plants and herbs. Other medical supplies and such."
Worry briefly flickered across her delicate features. "Do you think you'll need them?"
"I doubt it. But some of the plants around us are very useful and I thought I'd collect some. I'd rather have too much than too little and not be able to do anything should we run into trouble."
"Your friends are fortunate to have you." A warmth washed over him. Even in a simple travelling dress, Queen Anne was still one of the most stunning women he'd laid eyes on. And her smile was no less dazzlingly gracious.
"I'm the fortunate one. They've saved me more times than I can ever repay them."
"No doubt they would say the same of you." Aramis was vaguely aware that their conversation had once again veered towards questionable ground. He never saw a reason not to flirt with a beautiful woman and the queen was certainly that. His friends might not see it the same way – Athos was already glancing appraisingly at them. He knew why. Though nothing untoward had happened between himself and the queen, their interactions had become more than just those of a soldier and his queen. He knew he should try to stop it but a part of him was flattered at being the queen's favourite champion. And he was curious, in these moments it was the woman that spoke to him not the monarch. A woman that intrigued him.
Porthos was now adding his disapproval to the scene. D'Artgnan, bless him, just looked confused. Aramis politely steered the queen's attention back to their surroundings.
"Can I help?" He hadn't quite expected that even with the queen's characteristic consideration and kindness.
"You should rest." She waved his concern away. "No. I've been sitting in that carriage for hours and will again. I'd like to do something while I can. You said a lot of these plants were useful, yes?"
Aramis could only blink as she summoned her ladies who looked just as shocked at being recruited for foraging herbs. They looked a little more enthusiastic at the realisation they would be taking instruction from him and helping his friends.
Realising there was little else for him to do he held out a specimen for their examination. "This is yarrow, marigold. It helps with wounds and cuts. These are hollyhock and arnica, they reduce inflammation. Field scabious can treat cuts, burns and bruises. Elderberry acts as a pain relief and can ease respiratory conditions. Feverfew fights fevers and headaches."
The yarrow and feverfew were plentiful and mercifully needed. He set aside the elderberry and the field scabious. He'd save those for the worst. Two small pots sat beside the box. He recognised the laudium immediately. The contents of the other pot were only vaguely familiar. The faint scent hit his nose. It was a rare ointment Lemay had once shown him, used for burns and rashes the doctor had said.
"The physician's on his way." Aramis nodded absently at the promise.
The medical supplies were expensive. And the ointment, some of the herbs – Aramis doubted most palace servants would know them. Anne had either gotten the Royal Physician to arrange the supplies or she had overseen it herself. The gesture didn't surprise him, her kindness was always far-reaching and remarkable but even in midst of the turmoil she faced, she took the time to ensure that soldiers sworn to give their lives for her and her son, had medicine and care.
France was lucky to have her as queen regent.
I don't have a question for you today but thank you to everyone who has read this story. I'm working on a few things at the moment and will hopefully have them up soon, so keep an eye out.