Title: The Fires of Spring
Summary: When Aramis' daughter, Elanor, arrives in Paris from her Grandmother's estate in Alencon. Elanor gives her heart freely to a man much older than herself, but can he give his heart to her? Or is he too far guarded?
Disclaimer: I do not own the Musketeers. Never will.
A/N: NO FLAMES! Not accepted.
2nd A/N: I know it's totally unbelievable but then it is fiction. So I guess you can say this is Aramis/OC non sexual and Athos/OC romance.
The best things in life are unseen; that is why we close our eyes when kiss, cry and dream…
Elanor sat astride her horse as she lazily walked into Paris. She looked around for any wandering Musketeers who may know where to find her father. But it was by chance she found him first. Watching the streets she spotted four horsemen riding on their patrol. She quickened her horse until she was only a few paces behind them. She recognised one instantly and smiling, put her forefinger and thumb in her mouth and whistled. It was a whistle her father had taught her before he left to return to Paris when he left her to his mother to raise. Aramis spun in his saddle so fast he almost fell out of it. Seeing the young teenager riding towards them with her long flowing ebony hair and her dark midnight eyes, Aramis knew who she was immediately.
"Elanor!" He turned his horse around as she reached them.
"Father, it is wonderful to see you again!" She said, as he embraced her awkwardly.
"But why are you here?" He asked. She smiled sadly and held out an envelope with his name written on it in curly handwriting. His mother's.
"It's Grandfather. After he passed last winter, Grandmother says I am too much for her to care for by herself. So she has sent me here, saying it was time my father started to raise me." Elanor said. Aramis knew he probably hadn't been the best father in world leaving her with his mother but he thought it was for the best. To keep her safe.
"We've just finished our patrol, what say we go home and set about catching up?" Porthos suggested, he remembered the little girl with wide eyes and endless curiosity. Elanor rode between her father and Athos. She hoped that she could retain her position in the house as the adopted niece of Porthos and Athos. She could remember the doting adopted uncles telling her stories and jokes. They had her sleeping in the same room as her father at the apartments. Since they had no more cots, they had to provide a pallet. Elanor told her father she would take it but he insisted that she take the bed instead.
"It is a twin bed though, Father." She pointed out softly.
"Yes, but it is inappropriate for someone of my age to share a bed with someone your age." He reminded her, "how did you remember the whistle? You had to be three-years-old when I taught it to you."
"I was four. And I remember because I practiced it every day, I knew one day I'd return to Paris to see you." Elanor said.
"Do you remember what I told you?" He asked, she nodded slowly.
"Of course. How could I forget?" She said.
(15 Years Earlier)
"René!" His mother smiled as her youngest son rode up to the house. His mother's estate was large and had housed 9 children in its day. Now it housed two elderly people and 4 servants. He hated to think of what space they would need back in Paris for a growing child. Elanor, his only daughter, rode behind him, clinging tightly to his shirt.
"Mother…I need to ask you a favour." He said as he carefully dismounted before helping Elanor down off his horse, "I need you to look after Elanor for a while. I can't have her around me for a long time. Not while the Musketeers have so much to do. She will be in danger if she is in Paris and I cannot risk that."
"I will raise her for you, René. If that is what you are asking of me." His mother said, looking down at the little girl, her hair was tied in a braid behind her head, it was black like her father's and her large midnight blue eyes were mirroring her father's. She looked so much like Aramis it almost hurt.
"Would you Mother?" He asked, his eyes pleading silently with her.
"Of course. It has been so long since we had children in the house and she may need a woman's influence." Aramis knelt down so he was the same height as his daughter.
"Elanor," he said softly, the four-year-old turned to look at her father, "I must go back to Paris now. But can you promise me something?" Elanor blinked as tears silently filled her eyes as she nodded, "when you're all grown up and you return to Paris just whistle like this," He demonstrated, "and Musketeers will find you and bring you back to me. Okay?" Elanor nodded again, she then repeated the whistle a little clumsily but she had the general idea.
"Father, are you sure I cannot return to Paris with you now?" She asked through her tears, now falling down her cheeks. She never spoke much, but she usually only said a few words. She was already adored by Athos and Porthos, it would be upsetting to see her leave Paris, but both men understood the reasons. Elanor let her father give her a hug and he kissed her forehead softly.
"It is very dangerous in Paris now, but your Grandmother will send you to me in Paris when you're all grown up. You are going to be a fine lady. I love you Elanor, don't you forget it." He said and kissed her forehead one more time before standing and thanking his mother again. Then he mounted his horse and made his way back out of the estate. He didn't turn to wave or say goodbye again, he knew if he did, he wouldn't go back to Paris without Elanor.
"I was heartbroken for weeks afterwards and I can't tell you how many times I wanted to ride back and get you. Bring you back to Paris." Aramis said running a hand over his hair. Elanor smiled at him, she had his hair and eye colour, his nose, his smile and her face was the same shape. She looked a dead spit of him, but he would never admit it. She was beautiful; any man would be silly not to be at least interested.
It wasn't until weeks later that Elanor found herself in need of her whistle once more. She was waiting for her father and the Musketeers in the courtyard and she didn't expect the guards of the Cardinal to be patrolling. But they were. Five of them. When they saw her, they neglected their duties and started to jeer and make comments that made the teenager uncomfortable. When they surrounded her telling her what they could do, she spotted over their heads one of the four men she dearly wished had arrived earlier. Putting her thumb and forefinger in her mouth she let lose the whistle and within seconds the Guards had been dealt with. Her father, Porthos and D'Artagnan were late, but it had been Athos who had saved her. He made sure she was physically alright and together they waited for the others.
"You're late." Elanor said, "And you missed all the fun." She indicated to the five guards, which lay several feet away. Aramis asked if she was alright.
"Thanks to Athos, I am perfectly fine. Physically at least." She smiled.
"Father? May I speak with you?" Elanor asked one afternoon while her father was reading. He looked up from his book then closed it and got to his feet to follow her up to their room.
"What is it Elanor?" She looked down at her hands and took a deep breath. It had been several days since the incident in the courtyard and on more than one occasion she had found herself daydreaming about a certain Musketeer. One she shouldn't be daydreaming about at all.
"I fear that I have fallen in love with one of you sworn brothers." She said. Aramis frowned.
"D'Artagnan is already courting-" She cut him off.
"No, Father. Athos." Aramis' eyes went slightly wider.
"Olivier?" Elanor nodded. Aramis looked almost disapproving but he held his tongue.
"If it is the way your heart feels, I cannot change it. He is the only one who can alter the effects now. When do you plan to tell him?" Aramis asked.
Elanor frowned and shook her head, "I'm not sure. I hadn't planned that far ahead." She said honestly. Aramis sighed and pulled her into a hug.
"I can't change how you feel about Athos. But if you need my help in telling him, even if you want me there when you tell him, I will be there. I'll sit quietly in the corner reading." Elanor smiled at him when he pulled back.
"Thank-you, Father." He smiled in return, she was a lovely lady but she also had all the spunk a Musketeer needed. She would be a fine Lady indeed.
Athos sat by the fire later that night and Aramis sat next to him reading, or at least pretending to, Elanor sat at the table, playing with a hair pin.
"Athos?" He looked up at her and then back at the fire, acknowledgment he had heard her and was listening but no more than that, "I have a confession to make." He looked up at her again.
"Shouldn't you take confession with your father? He's the priest." He said jerking his thumb at Aramis.
"I have already informed my father of this, but I need to tell you as well." She said. Aramis lifted his eyes from his book and winked at her. The wink told her that it was safe to continue.
"Elanor?" Athos' voice brought her back to the present. She had been like a daughter to the oldest Musketeer, but she could see in his eyes that the concern he was feeling, if she needed to tell both her father and him, was more than a father's concern.
"Athos…I…I fear I have fallen…in…" Athos had enough information to know what she was about to say and he held up his hand to silence her. Elanor stopped and glanced at her father, he narrowed his eyes at Athos.
"I know what you are going to say…you've been like a daughter to me Elanor…I can't let it happen." Aramis was on his feet before Elanor began to move. He grabbed her before she got to the stairs and pulled her into his chest. He knew that Athos' words would break her heart. She'd not given her heart to anyone in the past, of that he was sure; this was to be her first heartbreak and her first love. He turned his gaze to Athos.
"You know what she did to me, Aramis." Athos said without looking at his companion.
"You cannot take that pain out on Elanor." Aramis stated as his daughter tore herself from his arms and hurried up the stairs.
"She hurt me Aramis." Athos said turning to look at his friend.
"Elanor would never do that to you. Not like she did." They didn't need to say her name as they both knew of whom they spoke. In his heart – however broken it was – Athos knew that Elanor wouldn't throw his love back at him like Countess de Winter had. She had been ruthless and cruel. Yet Elanor had been raised by a French noble woman – not that Aramis would agree – but she had the heart of a Musketeer. She was her father's daughter. Elanor would not hurt him like Milady had. Yet Athos couldn't bring himself to say that he too loved Elanor, much more than he should. He was far beyond her years; she would do better to court a younger Musketeer. Many were being recruited now by the King. So there were plenty of younger men that Elanor could court. And yet he knew she wouldn't. She was in love with him. The oldest, brusque, cynical Musketeer and still she loved him. For just being Athos. Could he love her? Honestly and truly? Aramis had gone he realized when he came back to earth, he supposed either his friend had given up trying to talk to him or had gone up to see if he could calm his daughter down. It seemed he had almost done it, he could hear Aramis talking to her, and her replies, filled with disappointment. He had to fix this.
Elanor woke the next morning to find that her father was already up but a small note sat on the nightstand next to her. She sat up slowly and unfolded it. The hand-writing was vaguely familiar and she recalled notes one Christmas left about the house for her to follow, but they hadn't been from her , this was Athos' handwriting. He was apologizing for his words last night. His harsh, heartbreaking words. He offered her the chance of spending one day with him. Just to make sure her feelings were indeed love and not just a simple crush. Smiling she pulled on a pair of breeches and a shirt before going downstairs. She dressed as a Musketeer when she was around them, she didn't need lots of pretty dresses, if she was going to convince Athos that she was in love with him and not just suffering from puppy love, she had to be herself. And being herself meant no dresses and her hair left wild and her smile in place at all times. She noted that Athos, who was still eating his breakfast, was dressed in his Musketeer uniform.
"When did you plan for our day together, Athos?" Elanor asked innocently.
"I'm afraid not today. The King has asked us to train the new Musketeers. We're his best fighters. You can watch if you like." He said with a small smile.
"I'd like that. To see the mighty Musketeers in action. I haven't seen all of you like that in a while. Just keep the young ones away from me. I'll go change into a dress. Play save the Damsel in distress." She winked at them and gave Athos one last smile before disappearing upstairs again. Athos looked across at Aramis, who simply smiled at his friend.
"She's does what she wants. I have no control over her." He said when Athos raised an eyebrow at him. So 'Save The Damsel In Distress', that would be interesting.
"Okay, you're just disarming us today, you have to get past us, to get to Elanor." Athos said; Elanor was impressed; they were assembled in the palace courtyard, where Louis – if he felt so inclined – could watch them in action.
"Is there a prize for whoever disarms you? Like a kiss from our Damsel in Distress?" One young man asked, Aramis frowned and Athos bit his lip. Thankfully Elanor took that answer.
"You try anything and you'll be leaving here without the ability to breed." All the young trainees cringed. She was fierce. When she said things she usually went through with them. She sat behind the Musketeers and rolled her eyes as one of the youngsters told them to let her go. Even the Musketeers rolled their eyes. It took less than ten minutes for all the Youngsters to be disarmed.
"They are not trying!" D'Artagnan said, as he sheathed his sword. Elanor got up and walked towards the youngsters she whispered in one's ear than as she walked back the Youngsters were whispering to each other what she'd said. She winked at the Musketeers, and now it took less than five minutes and D'Artagnan had been disarmed, then Porthos' sword clattered to the ground. Then only one who was left with his sword in hand was Athos.
"What did you tell them?" Aramis asked, retrieving his sword from the ground.
"A little persuasion goes a long way. I didn't say anything but that each of you had your weaknesses. D'Artagnan, Porthos and you all went for it. Athos didn't." Elanor said. She had fooled them. Shaking their heads they prepared once more for the youngsters. It was an all-day thing. In the end The Musketeers got to keep her. Elanor wouldn't have gone home with any of the younger ones anyway.
The next day was the day Athos had out aside to spend with Elanor. He was willing to let her decide for herself whether or not she really loved him like she thought she did. They rode to the outskirts of Paris. It was to be a beautiful day. It was about an hour after they stopped and tied up their horses that Athos saw it. The way the sunlight touched her black hair, the way her eyes sparkled in the sunlight as it reflected off the lake they had stopped at. She was dressed in her breeches and shirt and she looked so relaxed and at ease that Athos knew.
She was perfect.
But there was the age thing. He was so many years older than she was. She was 19. He was so much older. He was, in fact, old enough to be her father. Aramis had been gifted with Elanor at 15. He had to remember that she was just a child. She turned to look at him and she smiled brightly. The smile she gifted him with was disarming. Athos was at a loss. He didn't care what the age gap was, he was now completely and utterly hers. Whether she decided she wanted him or not.
Elanor saw the change; there really was nothing Athos could tell her that she didn't already know. Except perhaps…about Milady de Winter.
"Athos? If it does not pain you much, can you tell me about Milady?" Athos' face changed, his eyes grew darker and he scowled.
"I will tell you. Although it pains me greatly." He said, Elanor felt bad immediately, she didn't want to hurt him.
"We married not long after you left. Together for many years, she told me she loved me, all the time. I believed it. I knew her for a long time before. I knew her when she was Charlotte Backson. We grew up as neighbours." He told her.
"Father once told me you and her were almost betrothed." Elanor said quietly.
"Almost is the right word. We weren't as such, because that sort of thing died out years before, the only people who were betrothed then were Kings and Princes and such. Although growing up in a noble family, my family didn't see why they would promise me to anyone." Athos said, nodding. Elanor looked at Athos with sympathy but not pity. She did not pity him, because she knew how he looked at her. He had given up one day of his life to spend with her. That meant something.
"You keep staring at me." She said sometime later when they were packing up.
"I can't help myself." He said. Elanor looked up at him and smiled. She had always been a happy kid too. When she had stayed with them for a year she had always been very happy. Always laughing and now as a 19-year-old she was still that happy kid he remembered, but more grown up, a good head on her slim shoulders and a happy smile always plastered on her beautiful face.
The feel of his lips on hers was one of those things Elanor would cherish. Athos pulling her close to his chest, their bodies aligned. This was what love was supposed to be. Athos realized that when he was with Milady their love was rough and uncontrolled. With Elanor it was softer, gentler and slower. This was what Athos had always wanted in love. Someone who matched him, fit to him like a puzzle piece. And she didn't want him to change in the slightest.
She melted into the kiss as the sun set behind them. It had started innocent enough, watching the sunset over the lake before they began to ride back in the fading light, but it ended like this. Athos holding her close to his body feeling her melt into the kiss and mould to his body. He felt her arms wrap around his shoulders and one hand wound into his hair. It was passionate and soft. Just how it was supposed to be. Athos was the one to break the kiss and they stared at each other, breathless and flushed.
"We missed the sunset, Olivier." She told him.
"There will be others." He replied. She smiled and kissed his chastely on the lips then swiftly mounted her horse.
"Father will be awful if we're late back." She pointed out. Athos smiled and kicked his horse into a trot, Elanor followed. This was going to be hard to explain.
Hands on hips and a smile on her face, Milady de Winter faced the Musketeers. Behind her three guards of the Cardinal held Elanor back. She was struggling and The Inseparables could see her split lip, red hand mark on her cheek, and the bruises forming on her upper arms. But it was the way she winced whenever they moved her too violently that made their hearts break. She was in pain and they didn't give a damn.
"What does Elanor have to do with any of this?" Aramis asked, his voice little more than a growl.
"She has everything to do with this. She is the key to both you…and Athos." The older Musketeers locked eyes with the teenager and she gave him a small smile. She meant it to say she was okay, but the cry she gave when she was yanked to her knees gave it away that she was in immense pain. This was not going to be easy.
"The girl means nothin to me, Charlotte. You know that." Athos spat and Milady seemed to stall, it had been years since she was called 'Charlotte'. Years and it brought back painfully happy memories. Memories that she had long buried. Memories of a carfree and much happier Olivier...of Athos.
It wasn't until the guards and Milady had been dealt with. Athos himself dealing with Milady, did they get to know the extent of Elanor's injuries; she was leaning heavily against D'Artagnan who was sitting behind her on the floor. He held her to his chest but was soon relieved of that by Athos. He pulled her in close and let Aramis check his daughter's visible wounds.
"There's another thing, but I'd rather tell my father in private." She said, tears filling her eyes, the Musketeers agreed and Porthos scooped her up into his arms. When he mounted his horse, Athos held Elanor and then he handed her up to the larger man. Holding her tightly to his chest, Porthos rode on out front so as to get back to the apartments first. Planchet was sent in to set up a pallet by the fire and get bandages and other supplies for Aramis. To say that Athos felt helpless was an understatement. He felt utterly useless. He knew nothing of injuries and nothing of how to calm Elanor if she became distressed.
"Do you mind if Athos stays to hear? He is worried for you." Aramis said quietly to Elanor when she readied herself to tell Aramis of her worst injury yet. She shook her head slowly.
"He stays." She whispered; Aramis beckoned the other Musketeers forward.
"What is it Elanor? What else hurts that I cannot see?" Aramis asked.
"They did horrible things before they brought me out Father. They did things that woman at those Houses let men do to them, but they were rough and too strong." Aramis blanched and Athos suddenly felt ill. They had deflowered Elanor in the worst possible way.
"I'll kill them." Athos vowed softly. Elanor reached up and touched his cheek softly.
"You already did." She told him, "I think I will heal, but it will hurt for a while. I didn't want it to be like that."
"No one does, Elanor. But you are a strong girl. You'll pull through this." Aramis said softly kissing her forehead softly. He got up and left the two alone for a while.
"I was worried about you." Athos said softly.
"I know you were. I don't like it when you worry." She said running her fingers along his forehead, she sat up slowly. She let Athos pulled her into his chest and hold her for a long minute.
"Can I welcome you back?" He asked, she giggled.
"I'd like that." Athos closed the distance between them and kissed her, long and softly and passionately. Aramis watched from the bottom stair, as Porthos and D'Artagnan stood behind him biting their fists as they kept their comments at bay, he shooed them back up the stairs and they left Athos and Elanor to themselves.
It came to spring and everything was thriving. The chill of winter clung to the mornings, but that gave way to beautiful days. Elanor loved walking the market place and seeing the stalls selling flowers and soaps and all sorts of things. A flower was held in front of her from an unknown man behind her, she knew the person was male by his hand. She took the flower before turning around.
"Finished your patrol already, Father?" She asked linking her arms in his and walking with him.
"Of course. When Planchet informed me you were out here I thought I'd come and find you. We haven't had the best of days together have we? So why don't you and I have lunch together?" He said.
"I'd love that. I promised Porthos that I'd buy him wine for his troubles the other day trying to braid my hair." Aramis laughed, he remembered that. Porthos had given up after a half hour of trying. Aramis had finished it, telling his friend that he had started out very well. She bought the wine as they made their way to the tavern. Elanor hadn't been in the tavern and she found most of the men who turned to look at her as she passed vile and filthy one even tried to snatch her hand to which her father gave the man a warning look and took her to a quiet corner.
"We Musketeers look after each other." He said with a wink.
"But father…I am no Musketeer."
"Not yet. But you can hold your own and you have the heart of a Musketeer. I can teach you how to fight like a Musketeer and behave like one, but you have to know in your heart that you're a Musketeer." Aramis said. Elanor smiled, she would know in her heart that she was one. After all her father was one of The Inseparables. So she had to be one of the Elite as well, right?
Elanor smiled at her father as he stepped into the room they shared as the next day drew to a close.
"Elanor? Is something wrong?" He asked.
"Nothing Father, but I have something to tell you. Something you may not be happy about but-" Aramis cut her off.
"You are with child?" Elanor paled and shook her head frantically.
"No! No. No I'm not." She assured him, "I am engaged. In fact Athos and I are."
"He asked you to marry him?" Aramis said.
"Yes. And I accepted. I love him Father, you understand." Elanor said.
"Of course and I know he loves you just as much. Not just because of your beauty, but because of more important things. Your brilliant mind, your loving heart and the wit you carry as the daughter of a Musketeer." Aramis smiled.
"I believe Athos also said that he loves that I can see the best in everyone." She added and Aramis laughed. Yes his daughter had hardly said a bad word about anyone. She was a happy and loving human being and that made her the perfect material for the Musketeer. But a woman could not be a fighter. Men were the warriors. Aramis hugged her, his smile almost as big as the one he wore when he saw her riding towards him when she first returned to Paris, six months ago. She would make a beautiful bride. Even if the wedding would not happen until they got approval from the King.
As one of the King's Musketeers and to be marrying a Lady of the court, Athos would have to get Louis' permission to marry Elanor – not just Aramis'. But then Aramis already gave his permission by letting them be together in the first place. He knew Elanor's feelings were real and not just a crush. He knew Athos was finally happy again and as long as Elanor was happy so was Aramis.
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