First story completed! No, I didn't cry or jump up and down in joy. It was a sigh of elation. The story is done. I finished something many readers liked or viewed. It has been such a pleasure writing this story out from beginning to end. I hoped it met to everyone's liking in some form. :)

Do not forget that I am doing a sort of wrap-up interview sort of thing with the cast/characters of this story just for fun. So... any questions about the story or whatnot feel free to private message or leave a question in a review. I'll be happy to respond :) Nonetheless, I will still write it and post it on this story labeled as chapter 19 or whatnot.

Still can't believe I finished this... Oh well, I still have to write a loottttt of So Much For My Happy Ending (which I will extend the stories beyond the series at one point). As for a sequel to this story... I don't know I'm still debating. I don't want to officially start something if the producers of this film are drafting a couple ideas. I'll wait it out a bit, but will definitely revisit the idea!

And now...

Without further interruption...

The last part of All For Love is down below!





Chapter 18: All For Love

One of the tidious tasks the Cardinal had to endure the childish would-be king, was the expectant opportunity to turn a small happening into a frivolous event. In it's grandiose, the celebration of the ball was merely a rouse. A rise to expose the Queen for the fraud he had implemented. Single handedly it would be the highlight of his career.

To divide the monarchy would surely signal to the Pope his plummage to rise from the ashes of a broken House. Once the Pope gave him the reign he had desired for, only then will France become the Western light, a beacon for all others to kneel before his new continental order.

Richelieu had dressed for such an occasion. The blood-red cape he adorned was freshly stitched and ironed down by the French maids. Polished gold and silver rings draped his fingers like digit gauntlets. He circled the balcony overlooking the set up in the gardens. Maypoles were strategically placed around the fountain. With the precision of a hawk's eye, he narrowed down at the scrawny serfs bringing platter upon platter of the scrumptious buffet fit for the King's palette. The orchestra strung up the rest of their rehersal with head maestro beckoning orders for second chairmen to straighten up or for the violins to be tuned.

Many looked upon the Cardinal with fear. They rivaled, they scorned his very name. In the name of all heavens he shown no man any reason to fear him... aside from those who rebelled against his order. In his studies, he knew the world to be cruel and wicked. Without order and dignity. He had every intended to let God's Word to be re-taught and reinforced.

He crossed his arms as gardeners picked and plucked any deformities. They clipped away the weeds. Baskets of undesired flowers were shipped off to other servants and so on until they reached the scum-filled landfills.

I am a gardener. He began to ponder on the cobblestone steps. God has given me the privilege to weed out the undesirables. Once he held the scepter and was crowned, new ordinances must be made. God had no room in his Heaven to pillagers, vagabonds, or loose interpreted men. It was his mission to rid the world of the impure.

As a smirk developed on his face, he looked away from the botatious scenery. He plucked a bit of loose grass from his robes and flicked it away to the air. With much disdain he hastened back to the indoors with a purpose. Too much fresh air for big ideas. He need condensed thoughts: neat and curved onto paper- not airy passable dreams.

Unfortunately the inside was hardly as amusing as the outside.

It all started with a rushed usherman relaying the news from the street. Peasants were worried about a disturbance near Notre Dame. His ears perked at the home of the city's chapel. About a collision between two flying ships. His eyes widened with dread.

Three more things were sighted before Cardinal Richelieu gripped his fists fiercely. There was a crash, a bonk to one of the scared guards who fell humorously into the fountain, and the indistinct chatter of four men.

The Cardinal hardly recognized Buckingham's personal airship. All that was left was the deflation of the balloon, the drift wood plank pieces scattered aimlessly, and of course the mass destruction across the landscape into the linened table buffet. Most definitely his blood pressure skyrocketed.

"Arrest these men!" He yelled with conviction.

Guards huddled out of the palace with it's center drawn close. The King stepped out of his personal bodyguards' turtle formation in order to witness with hilarious faces at his backyard. His jaw opened and closed like a blubbering guppy before he could summon words and breath.

"What is the meaning of this?" His voice raised an octave.

Richelieu accused, "Your Majesty, these men..." However it would be the first of many sentences that hour that would be interupted.

The head of the group stepped out to His Majesty's presence. Trailing behind were his men, looking slightly dishelved but nothing too extraneous. "Are delivering a gift for Your Majesty. Compliments of the Cardinal," To gaze upon the beet red flush on Cardinal's face made it all the more worth. The heat disappeared as quickly as it came when the King's eyes rose with elation.

"Cardinal, you shouldn't have," He surveyed greedily at his new present. He clapped his hands together unable to control his excitement.

Richelieu darkened his eyes towards the grinning Athos and ear-to-ear smiling Porthos whom stood next to the silent but contemplating Aramis. His grimace lowered as he turned to his commander. "Well, Your Majesty did ask me to get you one of those, so...,"

He marveled, "So I did," The depressed airship gave out one last whoosh before sinking further into the ground. The sack already half-deflated, housed no small obstacle for a bustling Planchet. He eagerly grabbed a brazened pig leg for a taste. The King's eyes saddened at the distressed state of the ship and made no attention to the pressed up ground or the disarray of his men. "But what happened to it?"

Much prepared than Cardinal had believed, Athos countered, "Buckingham's spy, Rochefort, attepted to sabotage the craft. He's been dealt with,"

If there were a beat to live against his heart, it would have frozen in fright. Visibly shaken, Richelieu's eye twitched. They had unraveled all his plans within the day. He crushed his fingers against his palm fearing the wrath he had buried long before he pursued God's road, starting to surface through each cold layer in his body.

The King questioned, "Rochefort?" He turned a head to his subordinate. "Isn't he Captain of your guards?"

"Actually," Athos butted in. "His Eminence was the one who uncovered the traitor," From the inside pocket of his jacket, he produced a rather thin piece of coiled parchment. Broken, the seal faced down when transferred to the King's palm.

The King squinted his eyes. "'It is by my order and for the good of the State that the bearer of this has done what has been done.'," he read. He nudged his good companion. "That's your signature, isn't it, Richelieu?"

Uninterested, he responded, "It would appear so, Your Majesty," A slight lace of malice directed towards the grinning troupe.

The King eyed the words once more before gazing around from the ship to the Cardinal. He bit his lip in concentration. "Well, let me get this right. You brought me an airship and exposed a snake in our midst? How can I ever repay you?"

Cardinal rolled his eyes at the naivity of his King. How can this get any better, Lord.

It was meant at the moment, rhetorical. However it would seem as though God was in a gaming mood today.

"I could think of a few ways," A soft feminine voice called. If his ears would, they could be pierced by the sensitive whisper in her tone. The neverending thump against his temple forced him to grin and bear it as the Queen approached.

Bedazzled with a coronate mask and dripped in gold lace, the Queen and her two ladies in waiting stepped up. "Perhaps start with your bold Musketeers, if I may not be so brash," Anne revealed herself. Soft as rose petals and as delicate as the lace handiwork she knit, her presence illuminated the smile the King held for her, and only her.

"Anne," He drew back his breath.

Pearly whites peaked open through her red lips. "I was just returning from the jewelers," The mask she held against her chest settled to her side. Underneath was the gift she was given for her anniversary. A dozen beautiful topaz jeweled choker necklace decorated her outfit like a work of art.

One soft crack in the hardened heart of Athos seemed to ooze out empathetic sentiments for the awestruck King. Not only did they save a continental apocalypse from the start, but invertly rescued a distressed couple's marriage. The creaks of his peripheral vision landed on a staring Aramis at the Queen's side. Behind the mask, Antoinette lowered her eyelashes at the dawning blush she hid. Their longing was separated by the magnification of the King's lovestruck eyes on his Queen.

Constance revealed out of her mask, which cued Antoinette to lower hers. All cleaned up from the sharpnel no doubt hidden under layers of clothes. Scraps and bruises already hidden after a quick change. Antoinette's freshly powdered face covered the small fracturing cuts on her temple.

"...Of course! Pouches for them all, you'll see to that Cardinal," The King blabbered out his elation. Out of their hard work, the King bestowed them more gifts than imaginable. She took her leave from her designated post with a small nudge from the Queen. Anne left her with a smile as she circled around to Aramis' side, not unaware of the Cardinal's beady little eyes.

"...And-oh, Lady Antoinette. What are you doing here? You're on leave?" Antoinette presumed her role. She nodded in his favor.

She retold, "I accompanied the Musketeers, Your Majesty. I figured they would need a woman's intuition in these circumstances," Her eyes drifted across all four men she worked alongside. Porthos buried the deep throttle of his laughter while his little protege in the making stared wonderously at the picturesque Constance.

The King mumbled, "Ahh, yes. Job well done," He clapped his hand on the Cardinal's shoulder in congratulatory manner. Then he shook a mighty grip with Athos. Louis bowed his head in deep respect for the woman. In all his young years he never had heard or dreamt of one more willing to take a tightrope across the dangers only the bravest men faced. He drew up a thought. "I think we need more of your breed in our forces. I hereby declare you with the prestige term of Musketeer-in-training, that is if Athos wills it,"

Athos turned his head towards Netta. It no longer held the scorn or contempt Antoinette had first seen in him. Something light and emerging lifted from his aura. Athos lifted his grin to a heartfelt smile.

He said proudly, "I would be honored to have Antoinette serve along with me,"

At the corner of her forearm and elbow she felt the tips of Aramis' fingers grip. She took it as his form of communication. To tell in so little words of his happiness for her. Though unable to give him a proper thanks, she gazed up to his sun-filled eyes.

"Excellent!" he dubbed.

The Queen's heels clicked once. She rubbed her polished off knuckles tenderly. "Well, I realize it is a little early but the orchestra's here and so are we. Would Your Majesty care to dance?" she asked nervously.

With a hint of surprise the King was taken back. But then it melted as he leaned for her hand. "I would love to," The Queen smiled brightly.

The King, feeling this more than private moment to be intimate, straightened up much to Cardinal's disgression. He turned about to face D'Artagnan. "Well, mind out, you fellows. D'Artagnan. Well, well, well. Looks like you aren't the only one who gets the girl,"

D'Artagnan looked between Aramis and Antoinette only thin sheets away to grab each other's hand and run off without a moments notice. That was pure love, not some sort of fatal attraction. It was the kind where common sense had no real meaning. There was only one and another. The youth witnessed something so simple that his mind surpassed it. In the complexity of their separation and long years of companionship, it grew like a flower. In full bloom, he understood both must make trials and obstacles in order to keep the relationship afloat. Her weaknesses become his strength and vice versa. He carried her when her feet had failed her. And in return she would aid him when he collapsed.

And then he turned to the royal couple. Young and still early in their reign, not much was told but this sudden urge to be with each other. Not for a political sake. To resort to the analogy, their flower had not bloomed. It was still an early sprout. But with faith and love, they could make it grow and root down.

As much as D'Artagnan never had any dwellings to fall in love or succumb to such sentiments, he couldn't help it. Love had no purpose. It just came. It does not choose it's matchings. Nor does it make any permenant plans. Love can easily die as it can grow. But that was a risk worth knowing.

Briefly he thought of Athos and his previous love. Although thick as thieves, from a distance no bystander could observe and call it lust. There was something in his eyes that held deep respect and care for Milady. However the root he had tried to plant was carelessly chopped off and rotten to the core by Milady's deception. No matter how many times Athos condemned himself to fix it with a drink or toss it aside, it becomes you- the plant. Like an overlooming shadow, one doesn't simply tear it away. In a way, Athos removed the core- the seed that plagued him- out of his life by removing it's dreaded source.

And in return, has opened the plot in his heart to hopefully love again. In his early journey, D'Artagnan had learned too much. Easy steps began to trace in his brain cells. Day by day, hour by hour he processed his experience in the biggest recorder available: his memory.

And when he would feel hollow or in doubt, he would relay to what's important in his life. To serve and protect wouldn't be the proper terms. To love and defend were better. D'Artagnan had loved his country prior. Now he held heart to his duty to France, his friends, and his King. As admirable as he thought he would be could not compare to the moment he faced staring at the King.

He recovered his tracks. "Your Majesty is a natural,"

The King wistfully glanced back at a blushing Anne. "Guess I am. As a matter of fact, I think you'll start noticing a few more changes around here. Thank you. For everything," He offered a gloved hand to the young lad.

D'Artagnan clapped hands together with the King. "Anytime,"

The King's shoes clacked against the stone as he commanded for music. "Well, strike up then!" There was a little hop to his step.

The conductor, frazzled, bowed. "Your Majesty," He turned to the hurrying men. He straightened out the rows and waved his baton in the air. "Positions, please, gentlemen,"

Strings harped from the friction of the bows. A sharp disarray was heard before the instruments synchronized in perfect harmony. Antoinette swayed her head to and fro as the lively tune awakened a kindred spirit in her royal friend. The King twirled her around as the music swifted into an Austrian waltz. Full of step and pride, he clumsily remembered the moves. The Queen guided him, using her arms to cut across the wind.

She helped him with the delicate footwork. He spun her around in fondness.

As Constance watched Their Majesties waltz across the spitting fountain, she clung to D'Artagnan's side when the Cardinal cleared his throat. Antoinette and Aramis glared at the man approaching with less authority than before. Regaining some composure he surveyed the four men and two women in front of him.

He lowered his voice as the King swung his Queen around too close for his comfort. "Well-played. I could use men like you," Not expecting anything less, he held out the powerful ring he wore.

Out of habit, Aramis dipped down to kiss it. His face stopped hovering and hesitated. He recoiled back to Antoinette's side. Richelieu drew breath in horror at the audacity.

"I already have a job," Aramis lied through his teeth.

Athos replied, "I'm a drunk,"

"I'm independently wealthy," Porthos added matter-of-factly.

He narrowed his eyes down the list to Antoinette. She smirked, "I'm engaged in other activities,"

D'Artagnan shot down, "Thanks, but no,"

HIs claws curled around the paper that should have changed everything. Instead it was a permenant reminder of what it could have been. He stuffed it meticuously inside his robes. "The day will come when you'll wish you had said, 'Yes'," he hissed.

"Maybe," D'Artagnan's arm curled lazily around Constance's waist. "But not today,"

Richelieu understood the promise. He lived for challenges before, now shouldn't be any different. He leaned his head closer to them all. He repeated darkly, "Maybe not today,"

Without so much as a word, he stalked off to his chambers, plotting all the while.

Porthos, Aramis, and Athos along with a tagalong Antoinette walked side by side on the path to the outer gates. Just behind were the two reconnecting lovebirds. It was more than enough time to leave. Antoinette could hardly be contained when she was allowed to freely walk across the lands without so much trouble from Richelieu's spies.

Aramis curled her under his arm. "So what now?"

Athos gripped the hilt of his sheathed sword with confidence. "We drink,"

"And then what?" Porthos questioned.

Without lack of a better answer he responded, "Wherever they send us. Whatever France needs,"

Aramis looked incredulous to his longtime friend and comrade. Perhaps he was playing a cruel joke on them. Athos wore every bit of a serious nature. Always. Now his eyes held some truths. Understanding. Reality.

Teasing him, he said, "I thought you didn't believe in that stuff anymore,"

"I believe in us," he said glancing at all of his companions. "Till the day I stop believing that, there are still things in this world worth fighting and dying for," It was real. At any given time or place he would lay down his life at knife or gunpoint for them. They meant something to him. As a team they were deadly; thus, as friends they were unstoppable. No matter how much Porthos schemed for money, or Aramis' whinings to use that stolen money to pay for collection plates, or Antoinette intervening when secretly stealing the money herself without suspection... He wouldn't trade what he had now for what he could have changed in the past.

Athos unsheathed his blade and held it out in front. "All for one..."

One by one they let their swords collapse on top. D'Artagnan's blade was the last as it toppled over Antoinette's hand dagger.

"And one for all," They showered them to the sky.

Popping out of nowhere came Planchet. In his arms were food from the buffet including a huge fish platter. His chin held a bit of tartar sauce as he spoke. "You know, sirs, I know you can be mean, tough, foul-tempered bastards, but sometimes I get the feeling that deep down you're all-"

"Shut up, Planchet," They said in different intervals before walking up in separate directions.

Feeling alone once more, Planchet shrugged and readjusted his hold on the fish. "Yeah, yeah, of course," He grumbled down the street back home.

"Where are we going?" A week later Antoinette was dragged out of the house (or more or less kicked out by Porthos due to his lady friend) in the middle of the afternoon. Holding tightly and leading the way was a frantic Aramis. He ushered through a lazy crowd.

He laughed merrily. "You'll see,"

She stopped the both of them. She turned him around. "This isn't one of your tricks, right?" Antoinette couldn't help but giggle as his ragged breath creeped closer and closer.

He closed the distance between them. He reopened his eyes to a lax Netta. He cradled the side of her face down her chin. "Far from it," His whispers tickled on her lips.

She gazed at his lips. "You know I don't like surprises too much,"

Aramis squinted his eyes at the pouring sun. His hands wrapped around her dainty wrists and pulled them to his ever beating heart. Loud and thumping wildly, she moved along his heart that matched her breath.

He swoop down to capture her lips once more. His hand never left hers. Intwined they walked the streets of Paris together. "You'll love this one," he promised.

Aramis led her down the street and took a left at the next curb. In sight was the shining palace of Notre Dame.

There's a place that I know

It's not pretty there and few have ever gone

If I show it to you now

Will it make you run away?

Or will you stay?

Even if it hurts?

Even if I try to push you out

Will you return?

And remind me who I really am?

Please remind me who I really am.

Everybody's got a dark side

Do you love me?

Can you love mine?

Nobody's a picture perfect

But we're worth it

You know that we're worth it

Will you love me?

Even with my dark side?

Like a diamond

From black dust

It's hard to know

What can become

If you give up

So don't give up on me

Please remind me who I really am

Everybody's got a dark side

Do you love me?

Can you love mine?

Nobody's a picture perfect

But we're worth it

You know we're worth it

Will you love me?

Even with my dark side?

Don't run away

Don't run away

Just tell me that you will stay

Promise me you will stay

Don't run away

Don't run away

Just promise me you will stay

Promise me you will stay.

Will you love me? Ohh

Everybody's got a dark side

Do you love me?

Can you love mine?

Nobody's a picture perfect

But we're worth it

You know we're worth it

Will you love me?

Even with my dark side?

Don't run away,

Don't run away,

Just promise me you will stay

Promise me you will stay.

Morning seeped through the cracks. It would be unreal to say the flowers turned their petals or the birds chirped to sneak a peek through the stainless window. As a matter of fact, nothing of the sort had happened.

Within a moderately clean room, shapes hugged the blankets drawn across the bodies. Fresh linens were crumpled and wrinkled at the weight above them. Strands of hair adorned the crisp pillow like a sea of brunette.

Glimpses of nude skin were open to the air. Prickles of goosebump flesh cooled in the morning breeze. Draped around the woman's body was a hand to her small back. It caressed the soft muscles that eased out tension. Lying on her side she used his bare chest to act as the comfortable pillow the side of her face formed. Their left hands both gripped one another even in sleep. The wispy breaths rolled onto their skin and created another blanket around them. It acted as a barrier from the real world. In here, they need not the otherworldly intentions to grace the morning their presence.

Coiled fingers warmed the metal gripping their ring fingers. Precious and designed in a way that permenantly etched their belonging to one unity bonded them in the deepest of all intimate moments. Aramis' thumb twitched over the gold band she wore. His fluttered open.

Then he remembered. His moustache opened the curl of a smile. The deep sleep he wished to be back in was a momentary distraction. He gazed down at Antoinette's glowing figure on him. The slow flexes of his hand felt her bare back and trailed it up until drifts of her silky hair woven around his wrist. Fearing to arouse her out of a well-needed rest, he allowed her presence to sink him down further into the mattress.

But not without closing his eyes, feeling the cool metal she had given him only hours ago and for once let go of all his troubles. Whatever course was thrown in his way, they would face together. When she needed help, he would drop at a moment's notice to be at her side. The little gold jewelry around her finger symbolized his love and devotion he held only for her.

He moved her left hand to his lips and kissed the digit that belonged to him just as the finger on his belonged solely to her.

With that, two hearts became one and the rising sun quieted it's rays as it's gaze shifted elsewhere.

Don't run away,

Don't run away,

Just promise me you will stay.