Disclaimer: I do not own nor do I claim to own any of Alexandre Dumas' characters or story lines. His work simply left me romantically inspired to continue where he left off :)

This is the first fan fiction I have written in a very long time. I am not writing it to be a literary genius, although I usually use this type of writing to better said skill. I was simply inspired by the movie to reread the book again and from there decided I might like to pick this up again. I've found that as another year of college has started that it has been both good stress relief and therapy. I love these characters and after all I simply can't stand leaving a poor character all alone and miserable. I do love a good adventure, not to mention a good love story! Cheers!

Chapter One

Paris, France only weeks after the downfall of Cardinal Richlieu and the dispersion of his students and guard. The Musketeers once again guard the King, streets, and people of France...

Horse and rider blazed through the streets of Paris clearly anxious to reach their destination. With the recent usurping of the evil Cardinal, it was not uncommon to see such joyful riders galloping through the streets with happy news or long awaited reunions. Countless women were seen weeping on the street as their men returned to them daily, the looming war with England no longer imminent.

This rider was also looking forward to a happy reunion, but he was a brother awaiting his sister. D'Artagnan was racing toward the pub that he knew his friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis frequented in the hopes that they would assist him.

His sister was due that very afternoon, and he being who he was had been promised to a duel. Always a man of honor, he couldn't very well miss the duel and have his name slandered nor could he consider himself a gentleman if he were not to meet his sister. He was hoping his friends would not turn down the chance to escort a beautiful woman home.

"Ho there, D'Artagnan!" Porthos had just exited the pub upon his young friends arrival and raised his brows at his haste. "What have you gotten yourself into now, my man. 'Tis a woman or a rogue, from your speed."

D'Artagnan leapt from his horse with a grin, "It is both I'm afraid Porthos. I am somewhat in need of your assistance, possibly the three of you." He nodded in greeting to Aramis and Athos who had followed their companion into the street.

"In trouble so soon?" Aramis answered. "Be careful, or we may grow tired of saving your arse."

Athos chuckled, "Or at least fighting his battles for him."

D'Artagnan scowled, "I can fight my own battle thank you very much."

"Then it is woman trouble he is having!" Porthos exclaimed. "My dear boy, you always know who to come to when you need advice on women. I'm your man."

"Actually, Constance and I are fine," D'Artagnan shifted his weight anxiously. "It's my sister, Juliana. She's to arrive at the outpost today and I have a promise to keep with a man at that same time this afternoon. I'm afraid she'll be in need of an escort."

"She's your sister?" Athos asked raising a brow.

"Is she beautiful?" Aramis interrupted.

"Is she married?" Porthos winked.

D'Artagnan grinned, "You have my thanks gentlemen. I wouldn't allow her to travel the streets of Paris without an escort."

"Always happy to help a beautiful woman," Aramis answered. "You did say she was beautiful? I have a hard time picturing your sister. I keep seeing you in a wig and dress."

Porthos shuddered, "Not beautiful."

"If you find she does look like me in a wig and dress, please do not inform her of it," D'Artagnan answered exasperated. "Meet the coach at the carriage stop by noon. She arrives at one." He hopped onto his horse and took off without another word.

"He's a funny fellow is our young friend," Porthos chuckled. "Can't even find the time in a day between his woman and duels to greet his own sister."

"Where is his family from again?" Athos asked. "Gascony?"

"I've not seen many a wench from Gascony that are fair of face," Aramis mused. "Perhaps we shall only find a more feminine version of our newest Musketeer."

*****

Juliana de Castlemore was sad to see the beautiful hills of Gascony become the rougher, settled roads into Paris. The city was always exciting, but it was never as refreshing and beautiful as the hillsides. Still she couldn't help being excited. She had not seen Paris since before her father's death, and it was wonderful to know that it would still be lined with the reassuring colors of the King's personal guards, the Musketeers.

She could still remember being a little girl chasing after her little brother as they reverently followed the Musketeers around the palace. It had been so exciting. Even as an adult it was hard to believe that someone had tried to be rid of such a magnificent force and symbol to the people of France.

She and her mother had both been proud to hear of D'Artagnan's accomplishments and induction. The disgrace the D'Artagnan family suffered upon their father's framing had been horrible. How fantastical D'Artagnan's story had seemed to them after such grief and injustice; not to mention a welcome excuse to escape her late husband's fortress.

What a relief it had been to finally have an excuse to shed her mourning clothes and set off into the countryside with her handmaids and small contingent of bodyguards to visit her brother. Being married off to a man she hated had been arduous, pretending to mourn for that man had been torture. And so, she had refused horse and carriage and set out on the three-day journey to Paris.

What her late husband would have thought. She never had fit into the picture of what he thought a lady should be. After all, she'd grown up in the countryside of England, not in a parlor or as a courtier's daughter. She had never dreamed of becoming a Comtesse. And if she had, she would never have imagined it would mean giving up things she loved.

Riding her mare bareback had been forbidden and every time that he had found her without shoes and stockings she had been reprimanded fiercely. She never acted appropriately for his guests as far as he was concerned, and he vocally doubted her ability to raise and family and run a household. She just couldn't help the fact that she preferred her freedom. He just hadn't been able to understand it and had seen it as weakness.

"Milady, we are nearing the outpost," her head guard and one of her dearest friends called back to her.

"Thank you Reginald," she answered. "My brother should have a private coach waiting for us. Inform the outpost principal."

The small group of travelers arrived at the outpost to be met by the sight of blue and silver, Musketeers. It appeared they were arguing with the outpost master over what seemed to have been a scuffle with a young man.

The young man in question had been tossed over a dark haired and bearded Musketeer's shoulder with a bandanna round his head, while his two companions argued matter-of-factly with the outpost sergeant.

"My dear man," another dark haired and bearded man with a cross around his neck was speaking. "Your young boy there was clearly trying to pick our pockets."

"What man, let alone a young boy, would think to steal from a Musketeer," the third man had longer blond hair with a reddish, blond beard. He and his companions seemed rather amused with the situation at hand.

"Please, he's a foolish boy," the outpost master seemed frantic. "His fate will be a worse one if you leave him to his mam."

The three Musketeers looked at one another comically as though this was a terribly hard decision and the one holding the boy captive sighed, "Aye well I suppose my mother was a sight more frightening that any soldier I met when I was young. Make sure he keeps his hands in his pockets from now on."

He dropped the boy soundly on his bottom and clearly held back a chuckle as the boy scrambled to his feet and out of sight as quickly as possible. The outpost master disappeared inside the small building of his office caught between apologizing excessively and cursing at his young boy.

"Excuse me," Juliana had stayed her guard and approached the soldiers herself. "I'm wondering if any of you know a young man by the name of D'Artagnan. I was to meet him here this afternoon."

The three soldiers turned and looked her up and down as though appraising an animal. Instantly three identical grins lit their faces and an unspoken joke seemed to pass between them. The woman standing in front of them was definitely beautiful. She was not petite but deliciously slim and curvy. Her golden brown hair matched that of their curly haired friend D'Artagnan but was only slightly wavy and pulled back atop her head for riding. She had clear hazel eyes that glimmered between silver and gold. Her complexion was not the carefully kept paleness of French court but she had instead a healthy glow that spoke of the outdoors. The three men were instantly taken with her.

She frowned, "I'm sorry but is there something funny?"

"Not at all my lady," the man who had held the young boy captive removed his hat with a flourish and took her hand in a kiss. "We are your escorts for the afternoon courtesy of your brother. I am Porthos, at your service."

"Do not fall for his charms Mademoiselle," the other dark haired Musketeer elbowed his fellow out of the way. "There are far more charming men among Paris' streets. I am Aramis."

She turned expectantly toward the third soldier and smiled, "And am I to have the pleasure of your name, Monsieur?"

He smiled warmly at her and took her hand in his, "My name is Athos, and I am at your service milady."

"And what are we to call such a lovely young woman," Porthos piped up from behind Athos.

"I am Juliana de Castlemore," she replied. "Please dispense with the 'milady'. You may call me Juliana."

The three men grinned again and she was quite sure she heard something about no D'Artagnan in a wig and dress.

Attempting to be more of a gentleman than his counterparts, Athos offered Juliana his arm; "We have a coach waiting to take you into the city."

"If you don't mind my riding with you," she replied. "I'd much rather stay on my horse. I'm rather attached to her and I'd much rather see the city from atop a horse than from a carriage window."

Porthos exclaimed happily, "We are at your disposal milady. My only request is to ride at your side."

With an enchanting smile for Athos she took Porthos' proffered arm and allowed him to help her onto her horse. He very obviously led her horse over to his where he mounted and turned to grin at her, "Shall we, milady Juliana."

She smiled happily, certain that her brother would have preferred they ride in the carriage, "We certainly shall, good sir."

The three Musketeers rode side by side next to her, engaging her in lively conversation, telling lewd jokes, and simply making her feel welcome. As they made their way through the streets of Paris to her townhouse, they told multiple stories of her brother's mishaps all of which never failed to bring tears of mirth to Porthos' eyes.

"You know, your brother has no head for poetry," Aramis told her solemnly. "If the case is true with you, my dear, I would be happy to instruct you in the art."

Juliana couldn't contain her laughter, "Are you a man of God Aramis, because I do not think it would be appropriate for us to be alone together unless you are of the faith."

"I am most certainly of the faith Madame," Aramis answered immediately.

Porthos was heard muttering to Athos, "Yes he has a great desire for his work."

Juliana stifled a smile, hoping that her personal guard would not be too offended by these rogues.

Strangely, Athos had been thinking the same thing. The young woman riding between his companions was visibly enjoying herself and he wondered at her past that she would so openly enjoy his fellows' lewd humor. She was obviously well bred, but it seemed she had some of that spitfire her brother was famous for.

"My lady," Athos spoke directly to her for the first time. "What has brought you to this fine city?"

"Well truth be known," Juliana looked sheepishly at the three men around her. "My husband was recently deceased and coming to see my newly famous brother was an excuse to escape those dreadful mourning clothes."

Athos looked apologetic but Aramis said, "I would seem from your tone that he was not a man you greatly cared for."

"Sadly no," she answered. "We did not love one another. It was a marriage of convenience. He needed a wife and I needed a husband. For it seems at the age of twenty I was almost considered a spinster."

The three men looked surprised.

"Please do not find my asking rude, but how old are you now, my lady?" Aramis asked.

"Three and twenty. I was married for only three years and yet it seems I'm considered an old woman."

Porthos was grinning, "What fun! D'Artagnan is your little brother! He never told us, the rogue."

"Yes, big sister Jules," she answered fondly. "He was always getting me into trouble."

"Ah, here it is," Aramis looked up at the addressed townhouse just down the road from the Musketeer headquarters. "You did not tell us your husband was a Comte. Comte Castlemore hasn't been seen in these streets since he was young. Athos and I knew him as boys."

"Perhaps he was a joyful youth," Juliana replied considering he may have been friends with these men. "But he was not a joyful husband. He seemed to think the city was for ill-bred heathens and criminals. Oh, and those 'damned' Musketeers."

Athos stifled a laugh but Aramis was not so shy, "That is quite possibly because he was not accepted to the Musketeers. Poor man, his sword skills were somewhat lacking."

"They never got better, I assure," she answered as Reginald assisted her from her horse. "He was bested by his young wife, on at least a score of occasions."

This was too much for the three men and they burst into laughter.

Juliana grinned, "Thank you gentlemen for a truly wonderful welcome to the city. I hope that I shall see all of you again soon."

They all attempted to rein in their mirth to say their goodbyes.

"I must say I have not laid eyes on a fairer woman in many a year," Porthos told her solemnly. "It is my greatest wish to burden you with my presence daily so that I may look upon your face."

"I'm a lonely old widow Sir Porthos," she answered equally as solemn. "What could you possibly want with a homely old maid as myself?"

Aramis shook his head, "My lady, you do yourself great injustice. Though a clown, Porthos speaks the truth. You are as refreshing as the spring."

"Merci gentleman," she laughed at their mock quarrel for her attentions.

Athos smiled in turn and took her hand, "Lady de Castlemore, it has been a privilege. It would be our honor to be your invited guests at any time."

"You have my thanks, sir," she replied warmly enjoying his golden brown eyes. "I look forward to it. I shall send word with D'Artagnan."

"Goodbye milady," Porthos called as he mounted his horse.

And she was assailed with ardent goodbyes as she climbed the stairs into her townhouse, having been quite happily welcomed to the city of Paris.