All for One and One for All
Summary: Madeleine is the only daughter to the wealthy and aristocratic Monsieur de Bonnefoy and Alfred is a young musketeer, but when she is kidnapped, is his immediate liking to her something more? The Captain doesn't think so. Ame/Fem!Can
Warnings: Lovina and Gilbert and their potty mouths
A/N: So, believe it or not, this story was originally supposed to be a one-shot. Obviously, it turned into something more…anyway, enjoy!
Act I, Scene I
"What do you think the Captain wants?" asked the tallest of the trio as they all trouped down the wide hall, studded with the coat of arms, other Musketeers much like themselves, and office doors to lesser ranking officials.
All three of the trio were adorned in the blue tunic of a musketeer; the golden hilt of a finely crafted fencing sword protruded from the sheath at their hips, and on each of their heads sat an embellished hat, all with different colored feathers. The tallest-and eldest-man, a white haired fellow with red eyes that marked him as an albino, held his head high and proud, moving with grand gestures which, in turn, made the black feathers with white ends atop his hat flit around almost comically. The second of the group, the man that followed directly behind his albino friend as they weaved along the hallway, was brown haired with merry green eyes that went along charmingly with his green and red feathers, which-according to him-came from a bird of paradise.
The last of the group was by far the youngest, but not the least in height or youthful handsomeness. He had golden blond hair that was unfashionably short compared to his companion's and blue eyes the color of the sky on a cloudless day. On his hat were brown and white plumes, which he claimed was from the 'bird of freedom.'
"I can't recall doing anything particularly against protocol," the brown haired man joked, brushing his long hair away from his face with his brown-gloved hand.
"Knowing the Captain, its probably because we didn't fold our uniforms properly," was the teasing reply from the youngest of the men as he weaved around a rather anxious looking platinum blond man who held what looked to be a petition for the Captain to see.
"I really wouldn't be surprise, Alfred, not one bit," barked back the albino in laughter as they reached the last door of the hallway without tripping over one of their comrades, which was an achievement in itself. The hallway they just traversed was littered with musketeers that were just milling about, waiting for something exciting to happen.
The usually stuffy dark brown haired man that stood at attention outside of the Captain's offices at every waking minute of the day gave them a critical eye while the albino returned it with a friendly smile and clapped him heartily on the back, as was his way of doing things, "Hello there, Roderich!"
"Don't you have something better to do than pester me, Gilbert?" Roderich replied curtly, never having much patience for the albino or his friends.
"Actually, mi amigo, we were requested to be here," piped up the brown haired musketeer, giving Roderich a sunny smile. All four of the men knew it was a very rare instance when they didn't appear just to be bothersome that they were.
"That's a first," Roderich deadpanned, while each of the musketeers grinned back at him before saying, while waving them through. "Fine, go on in."
"Much obliged, Roddy," Gilbert thanked, tipping his eccentric hat to the man before leading the way through the ornate door and into a large office, all the walls lined with heavy books and maps while the window directly across of them looked out onto the courtyard below. A man sat at an immense oak desk in front of those windows, the sheer mass of it dwarfing the already vertically challenged and petit blond man.
He sat with his head bent over a stack of papers, reading glasses perched on his nose and thick eyebrows twisted into a scowl, which wasn't exactly uncommon. Clearing his throat, the brown haired man spoke up, "Captain? You requested us?"
The man raised his head to gaze at the three before taking his spectacles from his nose, blinking his leaf green eyes at them briefly, like he was considering each of them carefully. Finally he spoke in his slightly accented French. "Yes, I did. Please take a seat, boys."
He gestured to the three leather chairs that sat across from his desk as he leaned forward in his own chair, steepling his fingers together. The three did as they were told and sat; Alfred finding himself in the middle, making him seated directly across from their stern and very intimidating captain. He gulped slightly.
Captain Arthur de Kirkland was possibly the only man the three musketeers respected, not even the Cardinal or King had more merit in their eyes. It wasn't because of the Captain's fighting skills-even though he was the best swordsman alive in Europe-or that he had become the youngest Captain ever when he took the post two years ago at the age of twenty-one. It wasn't even because he was born to an English mother and a French father and despite the prejudices he faced; he still was a success in everything he did. It was the sole reason that he didn't take any kind of nonsense from his musketeers, and he could easily keep them in line. And they respected that.
"I've been meaning to ask," the Captain started after a moment of further consideration of them. "How Alfred was getting along with you two. I know it was hard on you when Monsieur de Bonnefoy had to depart. I know you felt like you were replacing him even though he was never your official partner when Alfred was assigned to you. But, it seems to me that you three are doing well. Is that correct?"
Monsieur Francis de Bonnefoy was the temporary Captain of the Musketeers when the old Captain retired to his country estate and there was hunt for a new one-which happened to be Arthur de Kirkland. The two men and Francis quickly become friends but then Francis had to return to his life as an aristocrat when the current Captain was selected to permanently fill the job.
"That is very true, Captain," Gilbert nodded, being the mouth of the three when it came to talking to the Captain in such formal instances, "Although Alfred could never replace Francis, he still is a fair hand with the sword and a good friend."
"That's exactly what I needed to hear," the Captain nodded, looking only a measure relieved. "I have the first assignment for you three."
"Really?" asked all three men, perking up immensely.
"Yes, and it closely involves Monsieur de Bonnefoy," the Captain nodded, making all three men sit up straighter and lean forward, intent on what was about to be said. Even though Alfred never met the Monsieur de Bonnefoy, his friends talked of him often enough for Alfred to know that this was a man worth being acquainted with. "His young sixteen-year-old daughter has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. The Monsieur came immediately to me this morning requesting for your help. This is the ransom note he received."
The Captain passed a thin slip of paper to Gilbert who read it out loud for his two other comrades. Granted, there were more than a dozen spelling mistakes on the page, but it still was somewhat legible. At least enough to read. "Bring 8,355,600 francs to the Barriere d'Enfer by eleven tonight or never see your daughter again."
"The catacombs?" breathed Alfred.
"Yes and you, Antonio, and Gilbert are going down there and rescuing the Mademoiselle," the Captain nodded. Antonio, being the good Catholic he was, crossed himself against the evil that seemed to follow the mere word 'catacombs,' while Gilbert and Alfred traded a look.
Act I, Scene II
Alfred glanced over at his two comrades; Antonio's face lit by their only light-a torch that the Captain had given to them as their only tool on their mission besides their usual swords. Gilbert didn't look in the least nervous, he had boasted many times before about his countless excursions into the catacombs; both for musketeer work and otherwise. But the blond, being in the musketeers for only seven months now, had never even seen the entrance to the underworld of Paris, let alone been in the crypts.
"You aren't scared, are you, kid?" asked Gilbert with a grin at his younger friend. Sometimes it did feel like him and Antonio were so much older than their eighteen-year-old blond companion. Sometimes being twenty-five just felt old, especially with Antonio being married and Gilbert engaged.
"No way," Alfred replied, fervently; more trying to convince himself of this fact than Gilbert. "Me? Scared? Hero's don't get scared!" Antonio rolled his eyes at that, Alfred's hero complex surfacing once again.
"Oh yeah? Than how about-wait what was that?" Gilbert began before cutting himself off and pointing dramatically off to their right, into a rather dead looking bush that sat alongside the cobblestone road they were following.
"What? Where?" squawked Alfred nearly screaming in fright, jumping as he stared down the bush with a tense look; ready to pull his sword should anything suddenly decide to attack them.
"Ahaha! Got you!" Gilbert cackled in laughter, amused that his trick actually worked for once.
"Mi amigos, I think you should quite down," Antonio said, turning to look over his shoulder at his companions, a slight frown on his tanned features. "We're almost there."
"S-sorry," muttered Alfred, still jumpy.
Gilbert snickered at Antonio and replied, "Well, look who's being responsible," but fell quiet nonetheless. The three continued to follow along the darkened and deserted road that led away from the gates of Paris. Finally, they came to a halt at the great gates to the crypt. All three gave it a hard look, almost like they expected a specter to pounce out at them, but, when nothing happened for a minute or so, Gilbert drew his sword-mumbling something about stupid superstitions as he did-and led the way into the passageway.
Antonio followed, holding the light for all three to see by, and then came Alfred, with his own sword brandished and tense, ready for an attacker to jump out at them and a spar to ensue. The three men delved deeper into the crypt, passing by both countless bodiless skulls and the skull-less bodies of people long since dead. The stones under their feet allowed for silent movement, as all of them were careful not to disturb anyone's eternal slumber or slip on loose pebbles.
Soon, the passage way evened out and they entered into a series of large caverns, all with walls made of skulls. When they were making their way through the third of such a cavern, Alfred asked, " How far in do you think these kidnappers are?" in a whisper to his companions, his question amplified by the sheer size of the chamber, making the words bounce around them like he had shouted.
Antonio glanced behind his shoulder and placed a finger on his lips, telling his companion to remain quiet until they had crossed the room. Alfred ducked his head in embarrassment and mouthed a mute sorry as they continued on, exiting the cavern as suddenly as they entered. "I have no clue," Gilbert answered Alfred's earlier question, careful to keep his voice low even though they were following another passage way and his voice no longer would echo.
The three continued along in silence, Gilbert peering into the darkness ahead and Alfred keeping a wary eye over his shoulder should an assailant appear from behind. After a few more minutes of silent progression, Gilbert halted the little group, saying in a voice so quiet it barely carried to the ears of Alfred, who only stood a foot or so away. "I see a light coming from the cavern ahead. There are a few voices as well, so I think we found them. We're going to need to move quickly if we are to keep them from escaping from the other passageway from the chamber the kidnappers are in. That, if there is another passageway." Antonio and Alfred nodded their silent agreement. The Captain had already gone over the situation with them dozens of time, drilling each of their roles into their heads, but it wouldn't hurt to be reminded at least one more time.
Gilbert nodded back and then led them forward once again, Alfred glancing nervously down at the clothes he had been forced into, fingering the blond wig he wore as he did. He had honestly forgotten he was wearing a costume to make him appear like the Monsieur de Bonnefoy and that a purse full of rocks sat at his hip; as he had been too distracted with the catacombs, but now he had to play the role of an aristocrat and worried father, as was part of the plan.
The trio finally reached the cavern they had been aiming for, entering fearlessly and proudly. The cavern was smaller than the others and-for some reason-only had one entrance and exit; the one they had entered through. 'It is strange, but practical,' Alfred thought, 'That way, if there was an ambush, they could only be attacked in one direction.'
Inside the cavern was a small fire that burned in a makeshift fire pit with three grungy, dirt-covered men sitting around it. The man closest to them was bald, then the one on the left had grungy black curls while the other had platinum blond hair. From the looks of them, it was obvious none of them were educated but all rather strong. 'Then again, they probably just picked this cavern at random,' Alfred thought.
On the far side of the cavern, looking uncomfortable that she was seated so close to a pile of skeletons was the loveliest woman Alfred had ever set eyes upon. Even though there was a cloth bounding her hands and feet, and a gag around her mouth, he could see she was beautiful. The young maiden had golden hair the color of the sun that curled around her delicate and small face that looked like a doll's, with a dainty nose that was slightly pink from crying. Her skin was a flawless porcelain white that made her violet-blue eyes more radiant than should be allowed, while her frame was petite and lean even though her pale blue gown was smudged and dirtied.
Before much else could be done, the three men sprang to their feet and the leader-the bald one, as it would appear-spat out at the three swordsmen, "You're Monsieur de Bonnefoy?"
Using his most civilized of accents, Alfred replied, acting the part of the Monsieur, "Yes, my good sir, and I have your money here." He juggled the bag of rocks as if it were coins, satisfied that it made a sound similar to money. Alfred couldn't help but add in a toss of his blond wig for extra measure. From what Gilbert had said, Francis was known for his eccentric habits and the long hair was just too tempting to not flip.
The leader gave Alfred's purse of rocks an almost hungry look, and took a step towards it, but the young man spoke again, "But let's make this a fair trade and no one will be hurt. Please untie my daughter and give her to me. If she is as she should be, you will get your gold."
"You're a reasonable man," the leader nodded, smiling a smile that was more closely related to a leer. "Armand, untie the mademoiselle." The man to the leader's left, the one with black curls, nodded compliantly and went to crouch in front of Monsieur de Bonnefoy's daughter, easily untying her and pulling her roughly to her feet. She wobbled as she stood, as if her legs were too weak to support her, and when it became clear she couldn't walk on her own, the man half dragged her back to where his leader stood. Alfred could feel his anger flare and temper rise at the sight, but he bit the inside of his cheek; it was critical to the Mademoiselle's safety that he didn't act uncivil to her captors.
"Now, hand me the coins and I will give you your daughter," the leader said, turning away from sight of the weak young lady being held by his lackey, a satisfied smile on his mouth.
"I would like to make sure of my daughter's safety first," Alfred replied smoothly, sparing a glance to both Gilbert and Antonio, who were slowly inching their way towards the lackeys; preparing for a fight.
"I can't do that, Monsieur de Bonnefoy, what if you took off with your daughter dearest and I never get my money?" asked the leader, smugly. Alfred sighed, like he was seriously considering the situation even though he knew perfectly well how this was going to play out.
He let out a long, despairing sigh, before meeting the leader's murky, quite unremarkable brown gaze. "Alright, then. We'll do this your way." He unclipped the purse from his belt and moved to hand it to the greedily awaiting hands of the leader.
But before the purse could reach the other man's hands, Alfred easily flipped it over and dumped all the rocks onto the leader's awaiting palms as both Gilbert and Antonio lunged forward and held the two lackey's at sword point. It was almost too remarkably easy, which immediately set Alfred on edge. If there was one thing he picked up from the Captain's afternoon preparation session, it was that it would take much more than a drawn sword, as much of imbeciles as the kidnappers appeared.
The leader chuckled as Alfred's own sword whipped from its sheathe, the purse discarded and forgotten on the stone floor, pointing straight to his chest. "What's so funny then?" Alfred asked, waving the sword tip ever so slightly at the other man, as if to demand an answer.
"I really wouldn't do that if I were you," the man said with that smirk he had only briefly dropped when the purse spilled rocks instead of gold.
"And why is that?" Antonio demanded, speaking up for the first time.
"Armand?" the leader said, calling to the lackey that held the Mademoiselle. She whimpered ever so slightly, making Antonio growl under his breath.
"What is it, Toni?" questioned Gilbert, not moving his gaze from the lackey at the other end of his sword.
"He has a dagger to her back," Antonio replied, a dark scowl appearing on his face.
"Exactly, so everyone lower your swords and we'll leave peacefully, and your little mademoiselle won't get a knife into her back," the leader nodded, his smirk widening as his trick came to light. Alfred wasn't in the least surprised that this man had already talked over some such situation with his lackeys. Alfred glanced at Gilbert, the unofficial leader of their trio, who slightly nodded, and all three of them sheathed their steel. Alfred most hesitant of them as his gaze caught on the mademoiselle.
"Good, now we are going to walk out of here with her and you aren't going to stop us. Else wise…" the leader said, trailing off and allowing the imagination to fill in the rest.
The three stood to the side, the leader heading the way out, with Armand and the Mademoiselle following closely behind. Antonio sent a sidelong glance to Gilbert who replied with the barest of nods. Then both stole a quick look at their youngest companion, who understood perfectly and tightened his grip on his golden hilt.
First the leader strode past, confidentially, and then shuffled the Mademoiselle, still unsure on her feet with Armand pushing her along. Alfred waited until just a moment before he was standing in front of the space between the captive and lackey, whipping out his sword and slashing it though the slim space between the two, making the dagger drop with a clang to the stone floor. Faster than any of the kidnappers could react, Gilbert and Antonio sprang forward. The brown haired man going for the platinum blond lackey and Gilbert easily pinning the leader, giving him a face full of his own smirk; the Mademoiselle, no longer having the support of her captor's grip, crumpled to the floor.
Alfred, sparing only enough time to extract the twin sets of ropes from his belt to tie up the Armand's wrists and ankles and herding him to be under the watch of Antonio, crouched down next to the young lady, worry written all across his face. "Ma-Mademoiselle de Bonnefoy! Are-are you alright?" as he picked up the dagger from the floor and slit her gag off, leaving an angry line across her delicate, pale face.
Rubbing her face with her palms-which were soon released as well-she did not meet Alfred's eyes-who she had instantly known was not her father even in the guise-or answer his question immediately. She instead silently observed as Gilbert and Antonio herded the three men together with their steel, like they were collies and they, their sheep. "I have been better," she finally replied in her quiet voice, with a small and barely noticeable smile. Alfred blinked at that barely-there smile; not helping but to return it in a larger, more toothy one of his own.
"Are you ready, Al?" asked Gilbert once he and Toni were satisfied with the arrangement of their three prisoners and their bonds.
"Uh, yeah, yeah, I think so," Alfred nodded back, not taking his gaze away from the Mademoiselle, feeling like his brain had gone to mush. After a moment of blinking like an idiot, he finally managed to say, "C-Can you walk, Mademoiselle?"
"No, my legs are numb from not using them," the curly haired woman said with a slight sigh as she gave her legs hidden under the blue silk of her dress a disapproving look.
"Then-Then shall I carry you, milady?" Alfred offered, still stuttering like a smitten fool-because he was-sincerely hoping that his face didn't appear as red as it felt.
She blinked her lovely violet-blue eyes at him for a moment and then allowed another ghost of a smile to appear on her face as she replied, "It appears that's the only option, then. And my name is Madeleine."
Act I, Scene III
As the large ornate carriage pulled by a team of four white geldings jostled to a stop and Madeleine leaned back into her cushioned seat, letting the heavy curtain fall in the window and covering the view of the magnificent palace of Versailles and the anxious figures of her father and maid, she let out a heavy sigh. After spending the early morning hours and breakfast in the Headquarters of the Musketeers, the Captain-Monsieur de Kirkland-had sent her in the royal carriage back to the palace accompanied by an 'honor guard,' as he put it. She knew it was a precautionary measure should more kidnappers set their sights on her. Madeleine didn't mind, but she was rather disappointed the charming blond young man wasn't selected to accompany her.
Shaking her head slightly at herself, she leaned forward just as a platinum blond footman adorned in a white powdered wig opened the door to the carriage and offered her a hand. She gracefully accepted it and stepped into the noontime sun; her legs having long since returned to working order. She gazed up at the lush green of the courtyard that led up to the main entrance to the palace where the two awaited her. She walked with all the dignity and grace of a well-bred lady, until she was no farther than eight feet from her father.
She stopped and looked at her father. Her father with his fashionably long and wavy blond hair that framed his face. Her father with the lightest blue eyes and the slightly stubbly chin. She smiled at him, feeling tears prick at the corners of her eyes and she dashed those last steps into his waiting arms, all the tears she dared not shed before coming now in sobs into his baby blue frock. The one she had given him for his last birthday.
"There, there ma chere. You're safe now and I'm never, ever going to let anything happen to you again," he soothed, rubbing her back in slow circles as he tucked her under his chin and rocked his only child. Her Papa always gave the best hugs. She sniffled into his frock for another minute, allowing herself to be a child for only a moment, before she pulled back from her father and gave his a somewhat shaky smile, agreeing with all he said.
Before much else could be said, Elizaveta, Madeleine's maid and dearest friend, seemed to not to be able to stand it for one more moment, and enveloped the golden haired young lady in an embrace. "Oh! Madeleine! I was so worried about you!" the older brown haired woman choked out as the other reciprocated her hug. "I'm so, so sorry! It's all my fault! They abducted you on our ride and I should have been right there with you but I fell behind and-and-"
But Madeleine cut her friend off before she could finish that thought in her quiet but firm tone, "No, no Eliza! It isn't your fault at all! I had ridden ahead on my own free will and I wouldn't expect your old mare to keep up with my filly."
"It is no one's fault except for those men that took you," interrupted her Papa fiercely, letting his rage appear for a moment before his face returned to its usual charming smile. Madeleine blinked at her father, but after a moment of hesitation, nodded in agreement once again. It was unsettling when Monsieur Francis de Bonnefoy's mask of a charming smile slipped; it threw his daughter for a loop when he briefly showed his true emotions.
"Now, let us retreat to our rooms," Francis continued, "The King wishes to see you this evening-you know how much he favors you-and then we shall have a lavish dinner; just the two of us. How does that sound, ma chere?" Madeleine nodded eagerly as she allowed Eliza to lead her back to her guest chambers in Versailles, finding that she missed the highly decorated palace more than she ever could have imagined.
Act I, Scene IV
"Alfred, what on Earth is wrong with you?" questioned Arthur more than a month after the young musketeer's first mission, the Captain of the Musketeers finally thoroughly annoyed with the younger blonde's pacing back and forth in his study.
"Huh?" Alfred asked, glancing over at the Captain, like he was just realizing he was being a nuisance. Ever since their successful rescue, Arthur-for some strange reason that was beyond him-was finding himself subject to being the company to either one, two, or all three of the trio of musketeers. He didn't know how this absolute honor was bestowed on him, but he certainly didn't like it. And, even though his paperwork was suffering, he was finding it easier to deal with the daily issues the musketeers faced; if only because the three babbled on and on about said issues in the first place.
"Alfred, you have been pacing back and forth across my office, wearing a rut into the floor for the past hour or so. What is preoccupying your thoughts?" the Captain sighed, setting down his white quill pen, trying not to show how exasperated he was.
"It's nothing Captain," Alfred tried to wave off his distraction but the Captain knew better. In the twenty-three years of his life, a very short time-all things considered-Arthur had seen a thing or two. He knew when a man was telling a bluff and when a woman was about to pass out from too tight of a corset. He also had seen many a man displaying the telltale signs Alfred was showing.
"Ah, I see," the Monsieur de Kirkland nodded in that knowing way of his, a slight grin of amusement appearing on his face, "Yes, you have it bad."
"What? What do I have bad?" Alfred asked, chewing his lip nervously at his Captain's suspicions. He certainly had an inkling of what he may have 'come down' with, but he wasn't sure if the Captain was thinking along the same lines.
Arthur leaned forward on his desk, fixing his young companion a toothy and knowing grin, "You have a dreadful case of Damsel Adoration."
"Of what?" the younger blond squeaked in shock. That really wasn't what he had thought, but then again, the Captain's theory sounded more correct. Even though he didn't know what exactly it entailed.
At that moment, the door to the Captain's office flew up, revealing Gilbert and Antonio; both striding in and ignoring the protests of Roderich, which was soon cut off altogether as the door swung closed once more. Arthur was not in the least bit shocked or surprised upon the two's arrival; it was a common enough thing for one, two, or all three to burst into his office. He frankly was more stunned that they hadn't made their appearance sooner.
"Damsel Adoration is when a rescuer, after saving a damsel in distress, becomes infatuated with said damsel, hence the 'adoration,'" Gilbert explained in his usual loud voice that commanded the attention of every living thing in the vicinity.
"How does he do that?" Alfred mumbled under his breath but no one offered an answer, partially because they didn't know how he did it either.
"Hello Antonio and Gilbert, nice of you two to join us. I was beginning to wonder where you both had gotten to," Arthur nodded to the two of them nonchalantly.
Antonio grinned back and said, "Nice to know we've been missed."
"Wait, what do you mean I'm infatuated? I thought I was in lo-" Alfred began, about to share his feelings that had been brooding in him for the past month.
But, Gilbert, unaware of this and having an unpleasant habit of cutting people off, interrupting him to answer his earlier question. "Definitely infatuated, my young friend! You can't stop thinking about that pretty little lady that you saved and you wonder if she needs you-her hero-to save her once again."
Antonio, picking up where the albino left off in hopes of not triggering Alfred's hero complex, said, "But the best thing to do is ignore it. Most times damsels are from the aristocracy and men like us don't have a hope or a prayer to ever have them as a lady friend. After all, the First and Third Estates are like sworn enemies and sworn enemies aren't lovers."
"Not to mention it would be a scandal," Arthur added in, as he returned to his paperwork, not bothering to look up at the three men in his office.
"Aw, have a heart old man!" Gilbert brayed in laughter at his own personal joke, "Not even the First Estate can keep love apart! You're just like that because you're an aristocrat yourself."
Monsieur Arthur de Kirkland paused in his writing, glancing up at the albino with rage clear in his eyes, but not showing anywhere else. All he did was set his jaw and return to his paperwork. It would not do for him to lose his temper at a careless snide such as that. After all, just as Gilbert had so kindly reminded him, he was an aristocrat. Or, at least, the son of one.
"Let up, Gil," Antonio said, with his easygoing grin as he clapped his friend on the back, "He's right. Damsel Adoration is something to be ignored and you know that."
Alfred, who had been listening intently throughout this whole conversation, didn't feel any better than he did when it started. He felt a certain confusion in his chest and mind. His brain was telling his heart to listen to his friends and just forget about the girl while his heart had its fingers stuck in its ears and was chanting 'I can't hear you!' He didn't know if it was possible at this point to ignore how his thoughts constantly strayed to the mere name of Mademoiselle Madeleine de Bonnefoy or how she felt so small, delicate, and perfect when he carried her out of the catacombs. It just wouldn't be possible.
"Oh, Alfred," Antonio continued as he fished around the left pocket of his breeches, looking very intent on finding something inside. Finally, he extracted a letter sealed with scarlet wax. "The postmaster gave this to us on our way in. It's from Strasbourg, looks like."
"Huh? Really?" Alfred asked rhetorically as he took the letter from the offered hand of his friend. His cerulean blue eyes scanned the front of the letter, only to find it did, in fact, read 'Alfred F. Jones of the King's Musketeers, Place de Musketeers, Paris, France.' And it was addressed from Strasbourg, no less, which only meant one thing. "Why is Ludwig writing?"
"Ludwig? Isn't that the fellow who you stayed two years with when you were younger?" Gilbert asked, remembering the blond telling them about his visit to Strasbourg where his father's friends lived; staying with them and their son, Ludwig.
"Yes and he taught me swordplay. I wonder why he's writing me, though?" Alfred confirmed, before voicing the thought that had been circulating around his head. He carefully slid a calloused finger through the red wax, breaking the seal, and unfolded the letter, his blue eyes scanning the letter easily and quickly, a bright smile lighting up his face after a moment of reading.
"What's it say then, mi amigo?" Antonio questioned. It wasn't in the least surprising that he was asking. After all, Gilbert, Antonio, and Alfred never kept secrets from one another.
"It says that he will be journeying to Paris and will arrive in two months' time. He's staying at Versailles and wants to come to here to visit sometime. He also mentioned something about being engaged, but he really didn't elaborate on that," Alfred concluded, summarizing the rather long, formal, and stiff letter (which were also all very accurate words to describe Ludwig by, as well) in no more than three sentences.
"Well, then," the Captain spoke up, "Seems like you boys are going to be needing to learn some manners in between now and then." Just as the Captain said this, there was a knock on the office door and he called, "Come in."
Roderich swung the door open to allow a platinum blond messenger boy to rush over to hand a very regal and embellished letter to the blond haired Captain of the Musketeers, saying, "This just arrived for you, sir. It's to be read immediately."
"Thank you," Monsieur de Kirkland nodded as he accepted the letter and both messenger and the doorman bowed their ways out of the room. Arthur wasted no time in slipping his finger through the golden wax stamped with the royal crest of the fleur-de-lis. His green eyes scanned the neatly and tightly written text on the page, his mouth opening slightly in surprise as he did. "Well, looks like you boys are going to need to learn manners much sooner than two months."
"Why?" the trio chorused.
"It would seem the aristocracy over at Versailles finally got off their lazy behinds and are inviting you three to a banquet in your honor," the Captain replied before adding in a very cranky mumble, "And I have to attend as well."
It was common knowledge all throughout Paris that the Monsieur de Kirkland was not one to willingly be stuck into fancy, lacey cuffs and emblazed frocks required for a banquet at Versailles. He claimed it made him feel like he was wearing a monkey suit.
"Hold on," Gilbert interrupted, "Why has it taken a month to finally have this banquet?"
"We're talking about Versailles here," the Captain answered, giving him a dry look, "Their definition of quickly is a one week planning time and three week preparation. This is pushing it for them."
"And why a banquet? We've never had one of those before," Antonio asked, looking slightly confused.
"You really don't know?" the Captain blinked at the three, all of who wore identical expressions of confusion. He sighed and shook his head at them, saying, "The Bonnefoy family is at the right hand of the King himself. Not to mention they're the richest family in all of France. And you just saved the only heir to that fortune, the Mademoiselle Madeleine de Bonnefoy."
Act I, Scene V
"Where's the soon-to-be Missus?" asked Antonio as the three musketeers along with Toni's wife-Lovina-and Arthur all rode along in the stylish and lavish carriage that had come to pick them up from the Place de Musketeers. They had left nearly an hour ago and were due to arrive at the palace any minute.
"She positively refused to come," Gilbert shrugged, like he, himself, didn't know what exactly his fiancée had been thinking. "She said she didn't have anything suitable to wear."
"She could have asked me for a gown, there are many dresses lying around the shop that would have fitted her quite marvelously," piped up Lovina, who was unafraid of voicing her opinion throughout the journey thus far. It was almost comical how different Antonio and his wife were, where he was carefree, she was stressed, where he was happy, she was scowling. But, for some reason none of them could quite say, it was decided amongst the other musketeers that they were a perfect match for one another. It may have been for the sole reason because they were entertaining to watch.
"Well, if another such event arises, I'm sure that both of you ladies will look lovely," the Captain cut in, gracefully. Despite the Captain being a cranky, grumpy man-often described as being about as fun as a stick in the mud-he still was charming when he put his mind to it. Gilbert and Alfred traded a look, both trying to smother their snickers at their Captain. He gave them a sour look, but didn't reprimand them.
Soon after, the carriage lurched to a stop, and a footman hurried to open the gold and white door of their carriage. Antonio stepped out first, offering his hand to his wife, who gracefully accepted and stepped onto the stone pavement of the courtyard delicately. Next came the Captain and the two other honorees of the evening, all three of them blinking at Versailles for a moment of awe before stepping all the down from the carriage.
"It's magnificent, isn't it?" asked the Captain as the three followed Antonio and Lovina through the courtyard, taking their time to reach the entrance, where a platoon of footmen awaited them. "Every time I come, I never get tired of looking at it."
Gilbert and Alfred nodded mutely, for the first time, not having a comment between the two of them.
The group of five continued on silently, the Monsieur de Kirkland taking the lead after a moment, so as he could hand the royal invitation to the steward that awaited them and the other guests that were filtering in. The prim little man, glancing briefly down at the invitation and the Captain's scrawled writing of the names of all the party, turned from his vantage point at the top the outside staircase and led the group through the ornate doors and into the grand entrance hall.
From their spot at the top of the grand entrance that offered a splendid view; they could see many courtiers milling about, chatting and giggling; some paying special attention to the other guests that were arriving at that very moment-including the musketeers and lady.
"They're all more nosey than we are," Alfred whispered to Gilbert, meeting the gaze of one of the court woman that had been giving him a rather peculiar look. Gilbert snorted at this just as the steward handed their invitation to the platinum blond herald, also managing to deal them a dirty look over his shoulder as he did. Alfred and Gilbert both snapped their mouths shut and stood stock still, only moving to shoot each other conspiring glances while the Captain just did his best to hide a smirk.
"Presenting the guests of honor, Monsieurs Alfred F. Jones, Antonio Fernandez Carriedo, and Gilbert Beillschmidt accompanied this evening by the Captain of the Musketeers, Monsieur Arthur de Kirkland and Madame Lovina Vargas-Carriedo," the platinum blond herald proclaimed for all the hall to hear. The five put on their best smiles, Lovina fidgeting slightly at the sudden attention on her, restraining herself from pulling on autumn orange silk gown with cream ribbons and lace, as the five gracefully made their way down the grand staircase and into the milling crow below.
As soon as they had safely made it to the floor without tripping, falling on their faces, or other such catastrophes, the attention of the room shifted away from them and Arthur breathed a sigh of relief. "Safe," he muttered before speaking up for his men-and one of his men's wife-to hear, "The second to hardest part is over, so go enjoy yourselves until it is time for the King to enter, which will be at approximately nine o'clock. He will want to thank you personally for your service. Bow to him, kiss his hand, but don't speak. And until then, off you go."
"Ever helpful," Gilbert grumbled as him and Alfred went off into the crowd together, leaving Lovina and Antonio to one another's company and Arthur to be his charming, aristocratic self. "He doesn't even point us in the direction of the food."
Alfred chuckled back at that but didn't offer a reply to his albino friend as they continued on their search throughout the crowd. As the two progressed, it became apparent to both that finding the tables set with food may be more trouble than it was worth. After all, they were weaving around the largest dress trains either had had the pleasure to witness as well as trying to squeeze between courtiers with wigs that-should they be pushed ever so slightly-they would lose their balance and topple over. Needless to say, it was a very trying journey.
Upon the two musketeers coming across a rather large madam with an equally large dress, they both split it up so as to circumference her. Unfortunately for both of them, as soon as they cleared the woman, they found that they were both faced with a wall of courtiers with no way to rejoin one another. Hopping slightly, in an attempt to see over the mass of wigs, Alfred craned his neck about for his albino friend but the only white haired people he could see where not naturally white, as Gilbert was.
"Well then," the blond sighed, looking back around to the courtiers that chattered around him. They didn't pay him any mind, so he just started weaving through them once again; deciding that if he found the refreshment table, then it was probably a safe bet that Gilbert would have found it too.
As he continued along, scanning the walls of aristocracy around him, he caught a brief glimpse of blond hair. Stopping-and nearly running into a wrinkled and disagreeable looking duchess-Alfred whipped his head around to see the one person that had been on his mind for the past month. He could just see her through the gap between a lady's train and a gentleman's frock, but there she was nonetheless.
She wore a lavish azure gown, the bodice form-fitting before it belled out in a wide skirt. The sleeves cut off at her elbows before belling off into sheer white silk. Her golden hair wasn't shoved under a wig-much like the other aristocratic men and women around-but instead, her curls were done up artfully, pearls and little blue flowers among the gold, while a single tendril hung just to the side of her right check, bobbing merrily when she moved ever so slightly. It was one of the more simple gowns of the night, all in all, but without a shadow of a doubt, the most lovely.
Alfred's breath caught in his throat as her violet-blue eyes caught turned away from the older blond gentleman she had been talking with and she turned her delicate face in his direction. He usually would have prided himself on being a man of words, always capable of coming up with a dashing, charming, or witty thing to say. But, at that moment, he was utterly speechless.
The platinum blond courtier she had been conversing with departed and luckily, Alfred had regained his ability to speak; nibbling his lip as he contemplated all the possibilities of this situation. First and foremost, he kept hearing the cranky voice of Arthur in his mind's ear, telling him to not be stupid and ignore his bad case of Damsel Adoration. But then he remembered the voice of Gilbert, when the two of them had gone to the albino's home because Alfred found himself without a clean pair of breeches to wear with his formal musketeers' uniform. Gilbert had told him in that wise voice of his that he only used once in a blue moon, 'You know, if you really like a girl, Alfred, and God hands you the opportunity to talk to her, then don't flip God the finger and not take it.'
'Well, I'm a good Protestant man,' Alfred thought as he gathered his courage about him, 'and I'm certainly not going to flip God the finger. So, here it goes.' Taking the one step through the opening of the wall of courtiers, and into the small clearing the Mademoiselle de Bonnefoy stood in; Alfred couldn't help but congratulate himself on his bravery. But then, he realized what close proximity he and the young lady were and all his courage jumped ship.
"It's nice to see you again, milady," Alfred began, mentally kicking himself on positively lame that sounded. It really should have thought of something cleverer to say before he took a leap-or step-of faith to her, but there was no going back now.
Madeleine, having been taken by surprise by Alfred's sudden voice, jumped slightly but then quickly regained her composure and turned gracefully to see who had spoken to her. A small and very sky, smile lit up her face when she caught sight that it was Alfred that had addressed her, saying in response, "And you as well, Monsieur Jones. And I must once again thank you for saving me."
Alfred, trying to hide his embarrassed smile, swept his hat-feathers and all-from his head and into an extravagant bow, saying as he righted and plopped the once again on its rightful place atop his head, "It is just part of my duty, milady; the very least I could do. Think nothing of it." He flashed his brilliant smile.
She blushed in response to that smile, all the conversation starters that had been drilled into her mind over the years in lessons on etiquette and learning to be a lady, completely cleared from her head. "Are-are y-you enjoying the party?" she managed to squeak out after moment of being too busy blushing and struggling to remember her lessons to try and talk.
"It is stuffy, hot, and boring," Alfred said, letting his true thoughts slip from his lips, as he had a tendency of doing. For a moment she stared at him and he blinked right back, mortified in what he just said. "I-I, um, I didn't mean-"
But she saved him from his floundering, saying with a hardly restrained giggle, "I think it's stuffy, hot, and boring as well." A relieved smile came across Alfred's face, mentally breathing a sigh, as Madeleine added, "And I'm glad someone actually has the sense to actually say that."
"Well, milady, I do try to tell the truth," Alfred replied, sheepishly. He was glad that she didn't mind his slip up, but that didn't stop him from being embarrassed about it.
"And that is a welcomed quality in you, Monsieur Jones," Madeleine said, her ghost of a smile reappearing on her face and accompanying her blush. "And, Monsieur Jones, my name is Madeleine, not milady."
Alfred couldn't help but grin back at her, that miniscule smile of hers always made him do so, and replied, "Then, Madeleine, please call me Alfred." Before another word could be uttered between the two of them, the herald announced the arrival of the king and Alfred had to sprint though the maze of courtiers to make it back to the entrance in time to be thanked by his royal majesty, holding his hat down to his head as he went in an attempt to keep it from flying off. Madeleine giggled as she watched him go.
Act I, Scene VI
"So," the Captain began as their carriage driver-a scrawny platinum blond fellow- clicked to the horses and they set off from Versailles, going into the night-shrouded countryside that set them apart from Paris at a moderate pace. "How was everyone's evening?"
"Perfectly wonderful for lover boy here," Gilbert chortled as he looped an arm around Alfred who sat wedged between him and the Captain, giving him a broad smile as he continued, "Danced all night with that blue eyed and blond haired beauty."
"Ah, leave off, Gil," Alfred replied with a good natured laugh, shrugging off his arm and elbowing him in the ribs, not enough to hurt, naturally. Despite his exterior appearance of being carefree, Alfred's mind was actually swimming with thoughts. Thoughts that mostly pertained to a certain golden haired young woman and the beautiful way she smiled an actual smile, not just a ghost of one. With all her white teeth showing and her nose slightly crinkled in a positively adorable way.
"Good, you've gotten over your case of Damsel Adoration, then?" the Captain nodded approvingly.
Antonio, whose shoulder was acting as a pillow for his sleeping wife, merely snickered at the Captain's comment, not daring to make any more noise louder than that, should he wake his wife; who was usually sharper tongued when rudely awoken. Even though his companions seemed highly amused by his escapades throughout the course of the banquet, it was clear to young Alfred they did not recognize the Mademoiselle de Bonnefoy and he thanked heaven above for it. They thought he was just being his charming self as opposed to still being stuck with his 'serious illness' which Alfred couldn't help thinking wasn't an illness at all.
Nonetheless, he didn't bother responding to Antonio's laugh. Instead, the Captain spoke up and said, "I'm really proud of you three-and Lovina-for your excellent performance with the King. He was telling me how impressed with how polite you three all were and the whole court seems to be taken with you." He paused to shoot Alfred a teasing look, but continued on, "And Antonio, please tell Lovina when she awakes that many gentlemen are disappointed she isn't still a mademoiselle. She seemed to have left a significant impression on them."
Antonio nodded in reply to this, his good-natured smile still on his face even though the Captain had just told him other men where flirting with his wife. It wasn't in his nature to get worked up over that sort of thing; Lovina and him both knew they'd never survive without one another, as much as Lovina would begrudge to say as much. "I'm sure she'll be delighted to hear that. She always has prided herself on her witty banters."
"Witty?" Gilbert snorted sarcastically while Antonio gave him an annoyed look, obviously not liking the snide his albino friend was making at his wife.
"Calm down boys," the Captain soothed, trying to avoid calamity or just simply too exhausted from a long day and then having to be nice for once during the banquet to actually put up with his musketeers.