warning sad, from Aramis's point of view just to mix things up a little. NO flames plz. Enjoy.
Aramis opened his eyes, finding the sun resting right above him. He sighed, pushing off his covers, and glanced to his friends, all of whom were still asleep. He always was the first to rise in the morning.
Deciding he was hungry, Aramis started a fire and watered the horses, then strayed off to find some berries or something. He did not go too far though, in case he was to get lost.
After some time wandering, he found himself a blackberry bush, where he proceeded to pick some off filling his hat before bringing it back.
He waited awhile for his companions to wake, but when they showed no signs of stirring soon Aramis decided to eat without them. He was about to pop a blackberry in his mouth when suddenly something hit his hand hard, making him drop the berry's he was about to tip into his open mouth.
There stood D'Artagnan, a look of panic, fear and anger on his face.
"What are you doing?!" he practically shouted, his voice an octave higher than usual, "are you crazy? Those are dack berries! Aramis, their poisonous as soon as they get past your lips! You're dead within ten seconds!"
Aramis, who as surprised he had so easily mistaken them as blackberries as well as D'Artagnan's anger did not react.
"Oh God, you didn't eat any, did you!?" D'Artagnan asked frantically.
"No, D'Artagnan, I ate none," Aramis replied slowly, hoping to calm the distraught D'Artagnan.
"You're sure?" He persisted.
"yes, I'm sure." Aramis confirmed. D'Artagnan instantly relaxed, sitting down with a thump, and put his head in his hands. "I apologize for startling you, I had not known."
D'Artagnan looked up, his face haggard. "Startling me? Hell Aramis, you scared me half to death!"
Aramis nodded. "I'm sorry."
D'Artagnan exhaled. "It's alright."
"What happened?" Athos said, bolting upright and staring at the both of them intently.
"I nearly ate extremely poisonous, deadly berries. Had it not been for D'Artagnan, I'd be dead."
Athos stared at D'Artagnan in amazement. "You saved him?"
D'Artagnan managed a weak smile. "Don't act so surprised." he said.
"Well done, lad!" Porthos boomed. D'Artagnan merely nodded.
"Why do they look just like blackberries?" Aramis questioned.
"Because its meant to fool you." D'Artagnan said darkly.
No one else said anything.
They made their way towards Gascony again a few minutes later, D'Artagnan offering to find them edible berries, but everyone had lost their appetite. Aramis scolded himself profusely for being so very reckless.
Along the way, Aramis watched D'Artagnan carefully, but the boy usually had his eyes closed and was breathing deeply, enjoying himself.
He had missed this free feeling, Aramis knew. Admiring the on rolling hills of green grass which rustled with shimmering light with even the slightest breeze.. The surrounding fields were covered in wildflowers of all colors and even some yellow wheat. They passed streams and lakes at a leisurely pace, stalling, just basking in the happy atmosphere and the lovely view.
They stopped again that night, D'Artagnan having not spoken since that morning. He was no doubt thinking about his family, with that expression.
Aramis merely sighed, opening up his sleeping bag again, and a long time after lying down did he finally sleep.
The next day, they left in the early morning, Aramis knowing from D'Artagnan's expression he had not slept.
Aramis did not hold it against him.
They reached Gascony towards the middle of the day, and it looked so much different than Paris. Even though Aramis had never been to the small town, it was painstakingly obvious that the young man had grown up here.
It would sound cliche, but the place was so D'Artagnan. It felt warm and innocent, joyful, and peaceful. There were no quarrels breaking out with anybody, and as Aramis could see, there were many kids climbing trees with other children, or laughing and "dueling" with sticks that were supposedly stand in swords.
There was a cluster of little houses just in the valley of two hills, some with barns next to them and some having two stories. There was smoke curling from the roofs of all of them and Aramis could see many parents and loved ones kissing or playing or just enjoying the company.
Yes, D'Artagnan had grown up here.
Even though the child would never admit it, he wanted someone to look after him. He no longer had his parents to do that, from moving to Paris to the circumstances now- but he wanted someone to look up to, someone to tell him right from wrong and scold him when he deserved it but praised him when he did something prideful.
D'Artagnan clicked Buttercup to a trot down to a very colorful two story house and barn. The side of the barn had been painted various colors and drawings, though Aramis could not see details from the distance he was at.
Following D'Artagnan, who had pulled to a stop in front of the house and unsheathed his sword, they decided to search the house and barn. Aramis and Porthos would search the barn, Athos the grounds, and D'Artagnan his house.
No one disagreed when D'Artagnan asked to search his house alone.
Aramis and Porthos wandered into the barn where they found everything in ruins. Saddles were broken, reins unbound, hay was everywhere, and no animals were to be seen. The doors over the stalls to the pens where said animals were kept were broken and hanging off the hinges.
Wood planks were strewn haphazardly about, as were countless items that probably could not be saved. Aramis inspected this sadly, and Porthos turned to him and said, "Well, we should get cleaning."
Surprised that he and his friend were thinking along the same lines, Aramis replied, "you get the wood planks and doors, and I'll pick up the items." The two set to work in silence.
Athos, however, had no such luck as to find as much as Aramis and Porthos did. Finding a few bloody trails signalling a body had been dragged led to nowhere, and hoof prints were scarce.
He wondered how his counterparts were doing, especially D'Artagnan.
The boy had not spoken since the Aramis/berry incident yesterday morning, and it greatly concerned Athos. D'Artagnan usually never shut up, and Athos found the absence of the incessant chatter unnerving.
Sighing and turning back, heading towards the barn where he knew Aramis and Porthos to be, for he wanted to let the boy be alone for a few moments. This was against his better judgement, but he let it be.
D'Artagnan slowly opened his front door, afraid and fearing greatly what he might find, entered his home hesitantly and shut the door behind him.
Everything was exactly as he remembered it. The wooden table still lay in the center of the room with the chairs gathered around it, those his now vacant in the corner, no longer of use.
The pots still hung from the low rafters of the ceiling and the kitchen was still the same, potato bags laying on barrels left to rot.
Turning to his living room he saw the familiar blankets that were on the floor where he sometimes slept and the rocking chair his father had crafted by hand for his mother just after D'Artagnan was born, but the beautiful piece of work was now slicked in dried crimson blood.
The sight made D'Artagnan want to throw up.
Gulping and turning away, towards his stairs, he slowly ascended them, once again fearing what he should find. Had they been murdered during the night in their beds?
Starting at Marci's room first just in case, he only recognized the painted walls and little mattress resting on the floor where she slept, but no body of one of his family members.
Shutting the door quietly and heading to the next room of where he, Ceron, Aubin, and Henri slept, he opened the door with the same caution as he had with Marci's-
and screamed at the top of his lungs.
Athos was helping fix up the barn to the best of his ability when he heard it- the scream. It was not a woman's scream of blood curdling, hair stand on end screech, but it was lower, and more masculine. But it was blood curdling nonetheless, because Athos knew who it belonged to.
Telling his friends to stay there and dashing out the door as fast as his legs could take him, he threw open the front door of the house and raced up the steps four at a time.
When he reached the top, he saw D'Artagnan leaning against the wall in a narrow hallway only lit by outside light, clutching his stomach with his eyes tightly shut and tears streaming.
And then he leaned to his left, away from Athos, and threw up.
Rushing towards the young man to help hold him up, Athos managed a glance inside the room and nearly lost his stomach contents also.
There was a boy, maybe ten, was hanging from the ceiling by a noose, covered in crimson blood, rotating slowly as he hung there limp. The boy had brown hair and Athos could only assume blue eyes like D'Artagnan's- the dark, empty place that eyes used to occupy showed nothing.
On the wall, written in blood that had dripped down the wall and onto the floor, was:
This is your fault
In loopy handwriting. The room itself was in shreds.
Athos dragged D'Artagnan away from the room and back down the steps.
Stopping at the landing, clutching D'Artagnan who was hanging onto him for dear life, lowered him to the ground and cradled him.
D'Artagnan sobbed into his shoulder, Athos feeling the wetness of tears leaking through the thin shirt. That was terrible, was all Athos think. Terrible, terrible, terrible...
"It w-was Hen-Henri!" D'Artagnan managed before the sobs claimed him again, even worse than the last time they had been in this position.
Athos just sat there holding the poor child for all he was worth, and didn't say anything.
They seemed to sit there forever.
Or at least, it felt like forever to Athos.
D'Artagnan had at last quieted down, untangled himself from Athos's grip, and made his way back up the stairs.
Athos, panicked, grabbed D'Artagnan's forearm, but the boy just gently slipped his arm from Athos's grip and continued on without looking back.
Athos didn't follow him.
D'Artagnan, trying to think through all of his grief, ripped his shirt sleeves off and wrapped Henri's marred face in them, hiding it.
Cutting his little brother down and cradling him gently, he muttered quietly in the soft locks of brown hair, "This is all my fault. And I'm sorry."
Slipping the noose off and getting Henri into new, unspoiled clothes, he cleaned his brother of blood and carried him down the stairs and out the door, ignoring Athos completely.
Going on to the dead tree he and his father had always dueled at, he grabbed a abandoned shovel and lay Henri down softly.
Beginning the long work of digging the grave, he poured his heart, his soul, and his grief into it, until his back ached and his hands were blistered and red.
He finished a long time later, throwing down the shovel, and picking up Henri again gently, he kissed the cold, pale forehead and muttered, "I won't forget."
Before lowering the boy down and piling the dirt on top of the hole and his brother again.
Finding a nice plank of wood and taking another and tying it into place to make a cross, he banged it into the ground as a headstone. It wasn't much, he knew, but it made D'Artagnan feel the littlest bit better than Henri got the burial he deserved, if too young.
Remembering he he had yet to complete the search of his house, he re-entered the dark place, and walked back up the dreaded steps.
But as he passed Henri's room, the words in red were gone, and the noose was taken down. The room was clean and the broken things cleared out.
He knew it was Athos who had done it, and he was grateful.
Walking throughout the rest of the rooms and finding nothing, he descended the steps in confusion, seeking out Athos to ask what had happened.
Athos, after watching D'Artagnan leave with the small bundle Athos knew to be his brother, went upstairs and slowly began to wipe away the horrible words on the wall. After doing this which took some time, he undid the noose and cleaned the room, disposing of the bloody clothes and ruined objects.
He took the responsibility of searching the rest of the rooms where indeed he did find bodies-but they were fake, stuffed with straw.
Disgusted, he threw these away too, and understood Marci's description. The little girl had not known the obvious difference.
D'Artagnan's other brothers and parents weren't dead. Missing.
Athos walked outside, watching D'Artagnan dig the grave for a while, a look of grim determination and sorrow on his face.
Explaining to Aramis and Porthos what happened and they both understood, they all left D'Artagnan to his grave digging, each in his own thoughts.
I know, I'm sorry! I feel sooooo bad! But don't worry, no more death, maybe...no flames please. But I don't think this is my best chapter, but whatever. Please comment and review and all that good stuff, and have a nice, rocking day!