A/N I couldn't help myself and started working on the "How the characters met" challenge from the Musketeers forum. I hope my take on it will be a little unexpected for most :)

It's going to be a combination of book verse and 2011 movie verse. I keep the marriage between Athos and Milady but use roughly the ages the 4 had in the movie. In this story, by the time D'Artagnan joins them, he is 18, Aramis is around 28, Athos is around 30 and Porthos is around 35. Oh yeah, it's going to have 6 chapters though I think most of you will be able to guess why when you finish reading the intro paragraph and this chapter.


Fate usually works in unimaginable ways that aren't clear to mere mortals. It twists and turns, pulls lives together and apart and sometimes back together again. It has a wicked sense of humour and sometimes too much love for irony. We are all slaves to it and as much as we fight it, certain things are set in stone and can't be avoided. So too, the meeting of the four inseparables might at the first glance look like coincidence although it's not. Four men who couldn't be more different sharing loyalty to France and King, love for adventure and a dangerous life. Four men who became soldiers through different paths that somehow joined at one point. Four men that fate had brought together before they became great friends without them knowing or remembering, marking them as destined to meet each other once more in the future to form something much greater than any of them. Four men who at one point weren't the valiant musketeers known as Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan but mere boys or young men known as Olivier, Isaac, René and Charles (1).

Isaac was an unruly child at the best of days. Far too energetic for his own good, he was the menace of the neighbourhood, always in some trouble or other. His clothes constantly needed repairing and never did a day go by when it didn't take half an hour to clean him of all the dirt he had gathered. Though only 13, he already began exhibiting interest in girls and it was clear than once a fully grown man, he would break the hearts of many a maiden. But despite all that, the several gray hairs on his mother's crown and wrinkles on his father's face that were his fault, his parents couldn't be more proud of the boy. For all his faults, he had the heart of gold and always protected those weaker than himself if they needed it, uncaring of the danger or injury it got him.

And so, it wasn't all that surprising that he interfered when he one day saw a little scrawny boy being harassed by a group of youths near where he lived. The boy tried to fight them off but it was painfully clear that he stood no chance against the 5 boys who were older and much bigger than him. His nose was bleeding, he favoured his right hand and scraped his knees when they pushed him around from one youth to another, making him fall onto the ground. Isaac ran to the group just before they stomped on the boy's chest.

"What do you think you're doing? Leave him alone!"

The boys knew of Isaac, some of them had fought him before and lost and seeing him this enraged made them back off, even if they were 5 against 1. The leader of the group didn't want to admit defeat though and stood against the newcomer, feeling secure in the knowledge that he had his friends to back him up.

"And why would we do that?"

"Because I'm telling you to leave him be. Go find somebody your own size instead of picking on kids!"

"Oh? But why shouldn't we pick on him? This is our turf and he doesn't belong here. I suggest you leave before we do to you what we did to him."

"In your wildest dreams."

With that the leader threw himself at Isaac, thinking that his companions would do the same and help him. They remained glued to the spot however and watched as Isaac made quick work of their friend. Sporting a newly broken nose, the boy ran away in shame and fear of the stronger boy, closely followed by the rest after just one glare from Isaac. Scowling at the fleeing cowards, Isaac knelt down and dusting his clothes, helped the kid get back up to his shaky feet. The kid looked at him with grateful albeit tearful eyes.

"Thank you for saving me."

"Don't mention it. I hate bullies and they had no right to be that mean to you. What's your name little one?"

The boy used his sleeve to wipe some of the blood running from his nose before he answered.

"I'm René."

"Hey René, I'm Isaac."

René gave him a shy smile that Isaac took as a good sign.

"René, how old are you?"

"I turned 6 last week."

Isaac knew that René wasn't from around here and wondered what such a little boy was doing alone. His clothes showed that he wasn't a street urchin.

"René, do you know where your parents are?"

At this, the boy's eyes filled with unshed tears once more as he shook his head no.

"I lost them and couldn't find them. And then those boys came and... and..."

"Shhh, it's ok René. It's all going to be ok. How about you come with me to my home and we can have my parents help look for yours? Surely you must be hungry and hurting."

The boy nodded his head and let Isaac lead the way, keeping close to his protector in fear that he might lose him too. The moment they arrived, Isaac's mother descended upon the boys, hearing her son out and ordering the maid to get some warm water and towels to clean Rene's injuries. She sent her husband to talk to several people letting it be known that the boy was with them, making it easier for the undoubtedly worried parents to find him. Bandaging him up, she praised René for being brave since he didn't cry none during the procedure and offered him some food. Isaac kept hovering around, feeling somehow responsible for René and unwilling to leave his side.

An hour later, a pair knocked at their front door almost frantically and the moment they saw René, yelled out his name in relief. Despite his injuries, René ran to them and hugged them tightly. His mother kept kissing him, tears of relief running down her face. They explained that they were just going through the town on their way to their new home when they had gotten separated from René. They offered Isaac's parents money but they refused, saying that it was the least they could do. René's father personally thanked Isaac for saving his boy, making the youth squirm under so much praise.

Thanking them once more, René's father took the boy into his arms and carried him away. The last thing Isaac saw before they left was René waving at him. Somehow, he had the feeling that they would meet again.

1 – Yes, in this story the names we associate with them so much won't really be used a lot, if at all. Instead I'm using the names they had before they became musketeers:

Athos is Olivier as in Olivier d'Athos de la Fère as used in the books

Porthos is Isaac as that is the name of the person the character is based on since there is no first name of Porthos' known

Aramis is René as in René d'Herblay as stated in the book and

D'Artagnan is Charles as in Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, the real person the character represents.