The room was dimly lit by nascent sunrays that managed to escape unhindered through the heavy velvet blinds.
Aramis was leaning her back against the wall.
"He's going to be alright, you know," Porthos reassured her. He had made sure to keep his voice down so as not to awaken their comrade, who seemed to be in a deep slumber just a few feet away from them.
Aramis gazed at the large bed where Athos lay and nodded absent-mindedly to Porthos' comforting attempts.
Oscar paced frantically in her apartments.
She alternated between rubbing her head furiously or shaking it altogether until it felt like her neck would fall off.
Such was the state that Andre found her in when he poked his head in to give her an update on the situation.
"What happened to your hair?" he raised a mocking eyebrow as he took her in.
"Don't ask," she retorted.
He narrowed his eyes. Why did he have a feeling that there was something she wasn't telling him?
"Very well," he began. "I came to tell you that Dr Lassone is has finished operating on the man we rescued. He said the bullet penetrated through the side and that no internal organs were damaged so he will likely recover in a few days. His friends are with him now."
"Thank you, Andre. I'll be right there."
Before he was out the door, he turned around and chuckled.
"What kind of a name is 'Athos' anyway?" he started. "Not to mention the ridiculous names of the other two."
"It's a nom-de-plume, » came the cold condescending reply of his superior. "Some soldiers in specialized squadrons use fake names to conceal their identity for some purpose or another. Usually for spying or other delicate matters that require absolute discretion."
Clearly, she was in no mood for humour. He used to be able to make her laugh. Yet lately, this melancholy of hers had become impenetrable.
"Right," he managed, the disappointment seeping through his voice.
She had turned to the window with a thoughtful expression on her face – a gesture that was becoming ever so common these days. Since Fersen returned it seemed that all Oscar wanted to do was to stand by the window and lose herself in what Andre can only assume to be daydreams about the Swedish Comte.
He clenched his fists and left her to brood.
The door opened to reveal the tall blonde figure they had met earlier on the road – the one to whom they owed Athos' life to.
Aramis let out a gasp. The figure was clad in a wine-red uniform that was richly decorated. Her wrist instinctively grabbed Porthos' arm.
"Oh my God, Porthos," she whispered to him in a panic. "It's her! The Lady Officer I saw at Versailles!"
Porthos glanced at his comrade and was startled by how pale she had suddenly turned. His stomach flipped uncomfortably.
"What, you mean… in the looking glass?" Porthos gulped, his palms were beginning to sweat. He knew it. He knew there was something not quite right about that place.
Aramis merely nodded.
In a last attempt to rationalize the situation, he leaned and whispered, "Are you sure it was a woman you saw? This doesn't really seem like…"
"Yes, I am sure!" Aramis hissed back.
"I don't believe we have been formally introduced yet… Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, Captain of His Majesty's Royal Guard, at your service."
Pulling herself together, Aramis inclined to the figure before her in a gesture of reverence. She offered sincere thanks for the aid that was given in transporting Athos to the Chateau and calling for a surgeon. She then turned to the young man behind the Captain and equally thanked him for tipping her off at the tavern.
"It was no trouble at all," Andre replied, nervously scratching his neck and, to Oscar's surprise, blushing.
Porthos followed Aramis in example.
The Captain gazed expectantly upon the blond soldier before her, desperate to know who she was. Yes, for her intuition told her that this person before was a woman just like her.
Aramis fidgeted uncomfortably. They couldn't escape introducing themselves. That was plain insulting and dishonorable. But what could she possibly say? They had to make something up right on the spot. She'll have to wing it.
"My name is Aramis and this is Porthos. We are…"
But before she could continue, Porthos practically shoving Aramis out of the way, launched himself into a most unfortunate uncontrollable speech, to Aramis' great horror.
"Look, we are musketeers of the King. We're from here but not really from here? From Paris, that is. But like… a different Paris. An older Paris. Like in, what was it? The year 1625 or something. We came from... from the past. It's hard to explain and I know it sounds crazy but there's this pendant, you see. It was cursed by a gypsy we met on the road at Versailles. Back in our time and then… OWW!"
The paleness in Aramis' features was now transformed into a furious red. She extracted her elbow from Porthos' ribs where she had just jabbed him and turned to the Captain.
One had to admire the coolness with which she managed the next few words.
"Please forgive us. My colleague seems to be quite drunk."
Oscar approached Porthos and sniffed him. She shrugged. "He certainly reeks of it but he seems quite lucid to me."
"Hey!" Porthos shot at Aramis. "I'm not drunk. I barely got to finish my first drink before you and Athos started the brawl and then…"
"You mean YOU started the brawl," Aramis corrected him.
"Again, you never specified."
Oscar and Andre exchanged a look that was a mixture of amusement and confusion. The two seemed like they could quarrel all night when Andre subtly inserted himself between them and whispered:
"Er, I think you might wake up your friend."
The two glared at him momentarily before realizing that he was right. Moreover, they became aware of the despicable behaviour they had just exhibited in front of the Captain of the Royal Guard - their only hope for finding a way to go home.
Porthos rummaged through his pocket and addressed Oscar. "I can prove it. I can prove we're not from here. Aramis, give me some coins."
Seeing the expression on the blonde's face, Oscar wanted to avoid anymore commotion. She held up her hand and shook her head, smiling.
"No need. I believe you."
A few days after the infamous ball, Oscar had wandered into the library late at night to fetch something. Just as she was leaving, she heard a thud.
A book had fallen from its own accord off the shelf. When she picked it up, she noticed that it had opened onto a page depicting descriptions of the military organization under the reign of Louis XIII. On the page were illustrations of Louis XIII's special regiment: his musketeers. It showed their uniforms, their weapons and included a description of their assigned duties.
At the time, Oscar had brushed off the incident, convincing herself that the new maid hadn't dusted properly and placed the book in an awkward way. Except, every time she had gone to the library since then, the same book kept falling open to the same page again and again. It reached a point where Oscar almost memorized the contents of the book. It also culminated in an unfortunate incident where Oscar descended with a fury down to the kitchens and reprimanded the maid for a job badly done, sending the poor unsuspecting girl into tears.
It was so unlike her to do something like that. Afterwards, she had gone up to her room, closed the door behind her and slid down to the floor. What was going on with her? Was this all because of Fersen?
Truth be told, though, since the ball, she seemed to be thinking of him less and less. Then why this constant irritation?
There was nothing Oscar Francois de Jarjayes hated most than things she could not explain. And there were plenty of unexplainable incidents happening lately. Even the wind seemed to be different.
The crowning incident, though, was the figure she had seen in the looking glass at Versailles. That was when Oscar truly began to believe that she was going mad. But to actually meet the very same person she had seen in the mirror in real life? Well, now she could honestly say she was insane.
She now stared at the two figures in front of her, taking in every possible detail despite the darkness: Fleur-de-lys insignia sewn onto their sleeves; hats with colorful feathers for decoration and status; long pistols and rapiers for weapons. Everything about them screamed 17th century. Everything about them screamed: Musketeers.
As much as her rational mind hollered to her that this was simply impossible, her intuition propelled her forward into this insanity. It was the same intuition - repressed for many years - that had finally emerged in a sliver of victory at the ball. And afterwards, it seemed to be omnipresent more and more, as if something deep within her was gradually opening. This time, she decided to lean into it.
"You WHAT?!" both Porthos and Andre exclaimed at the same time.
"I believe you, sincerely," replied Oscar casually.
"Wow, oh. Okay. Great," Porthos stammered. That was easier than he expected. Were 18th century folk used to these kinds of encounters?
"Have you gone mad?" Andre pulled her aside and yelled in an audible whisper.
"Maybe," came her reply.
"I can't believe you," he shook his head vehemently. Where was this coming from? Did she actually believe this ludicrous story? Oscar, of all people! His Oscar! The rational cold and calculating Oscar Francois de Jarjayes. Just what was she thinking? Ah, but of course, he no longer had the privilege of knowing her thoughts these days. Not since Fersen anyway.
"I don't even know who you are anymore," he blurted and stormed out.
"Wait, Andre, I can explain!" she called out after him. "Andre!"
She turned hurriedly back to her guests.
"Sorry to cut this short. Andre will prepare your rooms and bring you something to eat. You're welcome to stay as long as you need. We'll speak more tomorrow."
She was halfway through the door when she retraced her steps and tiptoed back to where Aramis was standing. Then, out of nowhere, she reached out and pinched Aramis' cheeks. She then poked her in the chest a few times.
"What the…" began the musketeer.
"Sorry, I just had to make sure you were real. It's nice to meet you, Aramis!"
With that, she dashed out the door, her glorious golden hair trailing behind her, along with a few hurled words: "ANDRE COME BACK HERE AND DON'T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME!"
"Gee, what do you think that was all about?" Porthos nudged Aramis.
"I… think she recognized me…" replied the stunned musketeer.
"No, I meant those two. What do you make of them? Sounded like a lovers' quarrel to me."
Aramis crossed her arms over her chest.
"I don't know but there's certainly more than meets the eye with those two." Then, giving Porthos a sidelong glance, with a hint of amusement, "I thought you didn't believe she was a woman."
A sly smile came over Porthos as he said, "Oh, I think I'd like it better if she was."
"Ugh, is that really all you think about?"
"Look, just because you've taken vows doesn't mean the rest of us can't have some fun."
"I didn't take any VOWS!" she hissed at him. Her prudishness was always a common topic of mockery, and Porthos always knew just the right things to get her riled up.
"Not yet you didn't…" he mumbled to himself.
"Seriously, what is up with you?" Oscar had followed Andre into the kitchen. "You've been so moody lately I can't even say a word to you," she complained.
"Me?" he lashed at her. "I'm the moody one? What about you and your endless brooding spells and your mindless consumption of alcohol these days, hm?"
Oscar was taken aback by his reaction. Why were her moods upsetting him? It suddenly struck her that Andre didn't have to be around her constantly. He didn't have to come with her to the taverns or sit with her at home. Why would he anyway? Didn't he have his own life to live?
"You know you're not obliged to keep me company at all times, right?"
Her words pierced him like a blade in the heart. Alas, it wasn't a first.
"You think it's an 'obligation'?" he returned bitterly. How, just how could she be so blind?!
"Why else?" she gestured her arms in surrender.
It was just there, at the tip of his tongue. And yet.
"Never mind," he said.
"See?" she said triumphantly. "Moody."
"What did you come here for, Oscar?" he sighed. "I heard you, I'll prepare the beds and the food. You didn't have to come all the way down to remind me."
"Some attitude you have on you!" she replied indignantly. "For your information, I came to explain to you what I was thinking upstairs."
"You don't owe me an explanation. You're free to do what you want."
"Andre…" she uttered in a small voice he had never heard before.
He had never seen her so vulnerable, so… feminine. He could feel his heart about to explode. Is it possible that his words hurt her? He guiltily rejoiced.
"Andre," her lips began to quiver and Andre's heart stopped. Yes, there was something deeply wrong.
"I think I've gone mad."
"Oscar," he raised her chin with the tip of his finger. "I'm here for you no matter what. You can tell me anything."
That seemed to do it. He looked in her eyes searchingly and she seemed to find her tether back to reality.
After some deliberation, she took a deep breath and told him everything.
"So, there you have it," she finished, looking away in embarrassment.
She glanced at him to find him deep in thought. Did he believe her? Could he believe her?
"Say something!" she finally swatted at him, unable to take the silence.
"Sorry, it's just a lot to process!" Then, taking a deep a breath he said: "So, you really think it's a woman?"
She punched him.
"Is that truly your take-away from all of that?! I just told you I'm seeing ghosts!" she lashed at him.
"I do remember the maid incident, though," Andre recalled. "You almost cost Mathilde her job, you know. I remember thinking this behaviour was very unlike you at the time."
Oscar blushed with embarrassment.
Andre crossed his arms over his chest and smiled. He couldn't tell whether he was elated to be included in Oscar's confidences again or whether he was amused at what she was telling him.
"So, do you think that these strangers are actually musketeers?" he inquired, coming back to the topic at hand.
"I don't know what else to think."
The two fell in silent thought.
"The thing is," Andre began. "I thought musketeers were… dissolved."
"They are… were," she corrected herself. "that is to say, there haven't been musketeers for over a century. Louis XIV ended their regiment. I don't even think they're… from around here."
"So… you really think they could have come from the… the past?" he muttered the last word as if it was blasphemy.
"Surely, that's impossible," he continued in response to her silent confirmation. "I mean, how could anyone possibly travel through time?! You would need magic for that, or something equally ludicrous."
Oscar's eyes widened.
"Andre, wait! There was that strange-looking woman who came to visit Grandmere that one time. I don't know who she was. I had been in the kitchen when she was leaving. She gave me a toothful smile and muttered something incomprehensible to me about 'the gift of time' and 'destiny' and whatnot. I suppose she might have been one of those fortune-tellers. Anyway, in that moment, I felt deeply unsettled. As if something was on the brink of happening. Like a pre-sentiment almost."
"Hmm," Andre replied, his index finger resting on his chin. "I think I know which woman you're talking about and now that you mention it, I did feel something very odd about her, too."
Oscar stared at him hopefully. "Do you… do you think Grandmere might know anything about all this?"
Andre thought long and hard. His grandmother had Irish roots and the Irish were notorious for the mystical.*
"I think it won't hurt to ask, but we'll have to be subtle about it. I doubt Grandmere would volunteer information like that easily."
While Andre was mulling over the best way to approach his grandmother, Oscar was regarding him with sparkling eyes. He believed her. Andre… Andre was always there for her no matter what. She wasn't mad, after all. He believed in her. She found herself taken by a sudden urge to reach over and kiss him on the cheek, which she refrained from doing at the last minute when he turned to look at her.
"Well, whatever this is," he said to her, "We'll confront it together, like we always do, no?"
He winked at her and she nodded.
To his surprise and great delight, she took his hand in hers and stroked it gently before saying:
"Thank you for believing me Andre. You've always been my greatest friend."
And Andre's heart broke a little.
*the idea of time travel via a magical stone was inspired by a wonderful fic in the fandom of Lady Oscar, written by Loufiction. You can read her fic here (ff . net s/13203096/1/Il-y-a-bien-du-monde-Versailles) and here (ladyoscar-andre t4274-il-se-passe-toujours-des-choses-interessantes-dans-les-escaliers). probably won't let the links work so the first one is on . You can search for the writer Loufiction or the story "Il y a bien du monde a Versailles". For the second story (which is a sequel to the first), it is located on the forum ladyoscar-andre . com . Search for "il se passe toujours des choses interessantes dans les escaliers".