Hey everybody! So here's another chapter! Thanks again for the comments so far, I didn't know you were all so crazy about this story! Thanks again and enjoy!
D'Artagnan sighed, his eyes wandering around the shops once again in an attempt to find raspberries. He had been walking around for some time now, with little luck on finding the things he needed. D'Artagnan clenched his eyes shut, bringing a hand up to massage his temple. His head throbbed like it had no intention of ever stopping, and D'Artagnan couldn't fathom the reason he deserved such torture. Surely, it couldn't be his fault for any of this; his brothers, his sister, his parents...It wasn't his fault. It wasn't his fault.
It wasn't his fault.
Stop, he commanded himself, stop.
He stopped in front of the fruit vender, scanned over the contents of the stand, and ran a hand through his hair. Sighing heavily again, he swallowed with difficulty. Marci had insisted she didn't necessarily need the color red, but D'Artagnan had been adamant about retrieving it for her. Perhaps because she was his sister and he wanted to do everything he could to make her happy, no matter how large or small the action was.
Maybe he just couldn't stand to fail another person. Either way, he had to find the berries to make the color. He kicked at the ground as he walked, eyes now trailed on the bushes to his left. If only there was a raspberry bush, that would be perfect. He wouldn't have to pay for the fruit, he could make Marci happy, and it would ease some of the heavy guilt that sat on his shoulders.
Suddenly stopping, his eyes widened in amazement. No... But there it was, sitting there on the side of the road; a raspberry bush. Trotting over to it while smiling broadly, D'Artagnan plucked a few gently and placed them in his pack. He shut his eyes again, he drew in a shuddering breath, turning towards home. He swallowed once more, just then noticing how very dry his throat had become, and attempted to push back the nauseating thoughts that accompanied him.
You consider that home...what of your parents? No visits, no promised letters...no protection, no checking in...what kind of a son are you?
Shut up, D'Artagnan told the voice firmly, but it continued as if he hadn't interrupted.
Oh yes, and what do your brothers think of you?
They love me, he argued with himself, brows knit into a tight line, they all love me. They understand.
Oh do they?
Yes. Now shut up. D'Artagnan inhaled sharply, blinking rapidly to be rid of the conversation. That voice was wrong. His family understood- D'Artagnan was extremely busy with being a musketeer, after all, it wasn't as though he could go home everytime he was homesick. He reached into his pack and plucked a raspberry, popping it into his mouth. The berry exploded when he bit down, but D'Artagnan could not enjoy the flavor or the feeling, thinking of what the voice had said.
Oh do they?
"Do they?" He pondered aloud, involuntarily popping another berry in his mouth as his lips drew themselves into a taut line. He didn't bother look up from where his gaze was glued to his boots; he knew that he was automatically walking the route back to their house, his legs familiar with the road and cobbles. He bit his lower lip as his body came to an abrupt stop, and he realized he had reached his destination. He went to take a step forward, but found his leg was no longer cooperating. Now that he had reached home, it seemed almost as though he was reluctant to enter.
This is ridiculous, D'Artagnan though viciously, shaking his head and kicking the door open with more force than necessary. He balled his fists at his sides as the door slammed shut, he pulled his back from his belt and poured the berries into a wooden bowl, mashing them with a spoon. He put all of his concentration into this, pounding the raspberries with a force that was foreign to him, brows tightly knitted and eyes clenched shut. He did his best to banish the thoughts that poisoned his mind, but found that the more he attempted to do so, the more persistant they became in staying.
He finished and put the bowl down next to Marci, who was sitting on the floor with parchment coloring with her fingers. She was actually an extremely artistic little girl, and the picture was truly amazing, even though for another girl it might've been rather crued. It was a very detailed and clear painting of the sunset over the hils of Gascony, and D'Artagnan's felt something inside of his clench painfully at the sight.
Suddenly feeling trapped, he glanced around sharply, looking for an exit. Spotting the door, he rushed back outside, not bothering to compliment the painting or acknowledge Marci's presence. He shut the door behind him, taking deep, gulping breaths and relishing in the feeling of cool air entering his lungs. The wind felt good on his suddenly all too hot skin and he took another deep breath, shutting his eyes, the sun disappearing behind clouds.
Behind his eyelids, everything was dark and cool, and he could imagine his home all too well like this. Just on the crest of the hill, his father and he dueling from dawn until dusk. He could see himself running across the fields, chasing Henri, Ceron and Aubin, racing them. He could picture hijmself limbing the bare tree in the summer with Marci, or marvelling in her astonishing ability to paint. He could hear his mother calling them all in for dinner, and could feel her lips on his cheek as she kissed him goodnight.
He had to stay strong for Marci, who little idea of what was actually going on, despite her intelligence for her age. He couldn't reveal his feelings to his comrades, fearful that they may judge him to be much less than he was and unfit to be a musketeer. He had to remain stoic and strong, be the rock of the situation. Show he could keep his composure in the most awful of times.
But here, now, he could let himself slip, and didn't bother to swipe at the tear that made its way slowly down his cheek.
Constance, after being dismissed earlier by the Queen, had decided to visit D'Artagnan and perhaps cheer him up slightly. She knew he was trying to stay brave, show that he was strong. This troubled her; only because she knew that even the bravest fell at some point, and when he did stumble, she wanted the right people to be there to catch him.
When she did arrive at the house, she narrowly avoided a door smashing into her as she jumped backwards. She glared at the door a moment in surprise before turning to reprimand the person who had thrown it open so carelessly. Though when she did turn, her mouth slightly open, she found she could not say anything. Feeling suddenly like she was tresspassing on an extremely private moment, she slowly backed away, considering coming back later. He had his head bowed and face shielded from her view, but he was slumped over himself, like he physically had the world on his shoulders.
Honestly, she wasn't thinking about interrupting the one moment he appeared to be alone with his emotions?
"D'Artagnan," she called, inwardly cringing. He stood stiff and straight, his arm shooting up to wipe something from his cheek- a tear? Her face softened as she licked her dry lips and bit down, her hands wringing now. He turned slowly, eyes wide and mouth open a little, cheeks flushing rosy. His embarrassment was written all over his face.
"Hi, Constance," he said quietly, eyes to the ground and face turned slightly away from her.
She swallowed, taking a deep breath, and trying not to let her voice shake. "I, erm," she said, before her shoulders slumped. "Are you alright?"
D'Artagnan glanced up, his eyebrows disappearing into his hairline before a smile upturned his lips. "Yeah," he said, his voice forcefully light and eyes dark, "yeah, I'm fine. You know me, I'm always fine."
Constance gulped, and shook her head. "N-no, you're not," she said, not bothering to try to cover up the quiver in her voice. "You're not alright." He stared at her, smile fading. His face fell, his eyebrows furrowing. He seemed so dark, like he was lost. "They'll be alright," She blurted, trying to wipe the expression off of his face. "They'll be alright, you'll see." She hated seeing him looking like that. It seemed so wrong. D'Artagnan nodded his head slowly, and she could tell he didn't believe her. "You'll see," she repeated, like that would make it more convincing.
Still, she turned towards him fully, her light pink dress swishing around her feet softly. Her ribbons bounced in her blonde hair. Looking at his lips and speaking to them, she said once again, "they'll be alright."
he turned his face up to her, so she could see him fully, and he noticed she was staring at his lips. His gaze flew to her own. "Yeah..." He murmured. Silence was not attractive on D'Artagnan, Constance suddenly realized. She'd take terrible pick up lines and horribly cocky jabs if it filled silence. It made everything seem very forced and uncomfortable.
And then, wondering if this would succeed in making him feel better but doing so nonetheless, she leaned forward softly and kissed him on the lips. His lips were cold, and full, and felt like they belonged against her own; they molded there like clay, like they were sculpted to fit to hers. He stood straight, unmoving, eyes closed and lips together. She felt a loss, that he didn't react, but she didn't pull away.
Finally he began kissing back, hesitantly wrapping his arms around her back. She wrapped her own around his neck and fisted her own hands in his wavy brown helped, she decided lightheaded. This helped the both of them. She felt like giggling hysterically; this was amazing, this feeling, like she was floating. Dancing on clouds, or flying. Like everything was perfect and the world was balanced somehow.
This was beautiful. This was soft and sweet and tender and meant to be just that. This was a kiss that said everything and nothing all at once, and if she could ignore the tear that slipped down his cheek for his sake, then she would.
It was a good thing he didn't need to talk, because his tongue wouldn't have obeyed his commands. It was hard to be around her; she made him dizzy. Yet he found this feeling addicting, and wanted to be around Constance nonstop. Her lips felt like they belonged to kiss his own, like they had been specifically made to fit to his. Her eyes were shut, so he shut his; he couldn't react, his body was paralyzed. If he reacted wrong, this would end. He didn't want this to end.
Time could've stopped, and D'Artagnan wouldn't have noticed. He could be burning to ashes and not even blink, this feeling was just so all consuming, replacing everything else. t was hot and cold at the same time, it was like water and fire. He felt like he was floating and falling all at once. It was overwhelming, but it was beautiful.
He hadn't noticed he had closed his eyes until he actually opened them, and didn't register the tear leaking out of the corner of his eye until it was sliding off of his jaw to land onto the cold, unforgiving cobblestone below his feet. She broke the kiss first, pulling away slowly. When she did, D'Artagnan immediately felt the loss. He wanted the warmth of her lips, the feel of her hands around his neck. He felt cold.
She smirked, putting her index finger to his mouth in a 'sh' gesture, leaned close and whispered, "it's our little secret." Then she turned swiftly on her heel and strode back the way she came.
He stood there, dumbstruck. It's our little secret...
The world seemed a little brighter than it had before Constance came, and he re-entered the house with a spark in his eyes and a skip in his step.
"Tagnan!" Marci said, running up to him and handing him her parchment, "I made you a picture!" Sure enough, it was almost a perfect replica of the sunset over the hills in Gascony. Just like D'Artagnan had predicted it would be.
D'Artagnan smiled genuinely. "It's beautiful, Marce," he said, "thank you." And he meant it. Sure, looking at it hurt a little more than it should, was a little more than just a homesick ache. He didn't care anymore though. If this made Marci happy- making and drawing, and then gifting him with those paintings- then hell, he'd accept them, and look at them everyday so he could remember just how lucky he was to have her.
She grinned, and nodded. "What now, Tagnan?"
"Whatever you want."
Pondering a moment, Marci suddenly said, "C'mon!" And grabbed D'Artagnan's hand, pulling him out the door.