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March 11th, 2006

Musketeer ficlet @ 11:03 am

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Follow-up ficlet to that musketeer pastiche. Originally, d'Artagnan was supposed to have a Meaningful conversation, and there would have eventually been slash. But then I made the mistake of starting out in Athos's pov.



The children were asleep. They would bristle to know that he thought of them thus, but that was what they still were, in so many ways. Children, still full of hope and bravado and the surety that being brave and doing one’s duty was enough to keep them from harm.

They would learn, eventually. D’Artagnan was learning already, faster than he would have liked, but there was nothing to be done to protect a friend from the consequences of his own rash decisions.

Athos poured himself another cup of wine—red, tonight, since the champagne was gone and Anjou wine had lost its appeal—and surveyed his slumbering friends.

The four of them had gathered in Porthos and Aramis’s room — the two of them were sharing lodgings for reasons of economy — to eat a late dinner and plot their next course of action. Aramis, fatigue and bloodloss finally catching up to him, had fallen asleep at the table before finishing so much as half a glass of wine, and Porthos had begun yawning only minutes later. The two of them were now sound asleep in the room’s only bed, Porthos’s long arms and legs occupying most of it. Aramis was curled up on his side in the miniscule amount of remaining space, huddled around his wounded shoulder with only his dark hair visible above the blanket. It made it look disconcertingly as if Porthos were in bed with a woman.

D’Artagnan was dozing in a chair, too excited over the events of the day to go to bed, but too tired to stay awake. He’d woken up twice just to check that Aramis and Porthos were still there, as if a part of him still hadn’t realized that they were safely back from their ill-fated mission.

They were all luckier than they deserved to be, Athos mused. Once again, they had sprung “Milady de Winter’s” trap and lived to walk away. How much longer could they continue to do so successfully? All luck eventually ran out.

Milady de Winter, Anne de Breuil… whatever her real name was, she was sure to catch up with them eventually. D’Artagnan was twitchy with nerves at the very thought of her, as if she could fly across the channel from England and walk through the walls of the inn like a ghost. Athos was not entirely sure she could not.

He’d been so certain she was dead—how could she be otherwise, when he’d seen her hanged himself?—and somehow, even after hearing d’Artagnan’s description of the unmistakable fleur-de-lys on “Milady de Winter’s” shoulder, part of him had still clung to the knowledge of her death.

She was dead, and with her had died the Comte de la Fere. The arrogant young nobleman had vanished—burned away in the fires of guilt and despair, the way “Milady’s” body should have been burned, to ashes that would never rise again until Resurrection day—and “Athos” had been born. No family name, no title, only a plain and simple musketeer, with no purpose in life but to serve the king, and, by serving another, leave behind the Comte de la Fere’s tangled motives of rage, pride, and guilt.

Aramis was not the only member of their confraternity who knew something of vocations.

His initial determination to be solitary had not held out long against the efforts of his fellow musketeers—first Porthos and then Aramis had attached themselves to him, blithely unconcerned with the fact that they were spoiling his penance, and then d’Artagnan had appeared in their lives, all naiveté, provincial pride, and brash courage, impossible to ignore, and impossible to resist. For a brief time, at least, his existence as a musketeer had stopped being a penance and become something altogether different.

But then had come d’Artagnan’s shattering story of his encounter with Milady, with the brand on her shoulder that was the only identifying mark he needed, and suddenly, a woman who had previously been nothing but his friend’s youthful folly became something much more terrible and sinister.

She had not died, but lived, to return again even more terrible than she had been.

Part of Athos had still clung to the belief that she was dead, that “Lady Clarice de Winter” was some other woman, equally depraved and dangerous, but nothing to do with his long dead wife. But that last shred of hope had been destroyed that night in the Red Dovecot, when the sound of her voice—Her voice, Anne’s voice—rang through the inn’s common room, weaving her schemes with Cardinal Richelieu like some terrible evil genius. She did not even know of his existence, and yet still, she plotted against all Athos held dear. Not being content with devastating every part of his old life, she had risen from the grave to lay siege to his new life as well.

Confronting her had been a mistake. He knew that now, had known it even as he strode into the Red Dovecot’s common room, filled with a cold rage the likes of which he had not known since… since the last time he had confronted her, years younger and decades more innocent.

The fact that she surely thought him as dead as he’d thought her had been a tactical advantage, perhaps the only advantage he had against her, and he had squandered it in a moment of rage, had revealed himself to her in order to warn her away from d’Artagnan.

In hindsight, he could see that disclosing any connection between the young musketeer and the erstwhile Comte de la Fere was sure to do nothing but spur her on to further attempts at vengeance, knowing as she now did that striking out at d’Artagnan would see her doubly avenged.

She was even more beautiful now than she had been then. More beautiful, and yet harder and colder, too, the sweet innocence she had counterfeited so well once upon a time turned to a ripe sensuality that was equal parts seductive and repellant. He should have blown her brains out with his pistol right then and there, and taken whatever consequences followed, but something in her face—some remnant of the Anne he had known, the Anne some part of him still wished had been real—had stayed his hand.

He had already had cause to regret that moment of sentiment, and had no doubts that he would soon have more. The assassination attempt this morning was but one more in a long string of attempts on d’Artagnan’s life, and now, thanks to his actions, the rest of them had been added to Milady and the Cardinal’s list of foes, as well.

By sending a warning to Buckingham, they had in effect committed treason, and if their enemies chose to make it an official matter instead of a private one, even M. de Tréville would be hard-pressed to help them. The next attack on them might not come in the form of a nighttime ambush or a dagger in the back, but simply as a few words spoken from Cardinal Richelieu to his Majesty.

Athos did not think his friends had fully grasped that possibility yet, not even Aramis, subtle as he was. It was to be hoped that the never had to.

D’Artagnan stirred in his chair, but did not awaken. Across the room, Porthos snored away peacefully, one arm slung across Aramis’s chest. Children.

Athos poured himself another glass of wine.



I eventually had to cut the emo brooding short, or it could have gone on forever.
 
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From:sodzilla
Date:March 29th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
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This was a very good read, as was the other one! Your style isn't quite Dumas-esque, but this is all to the good IMO; you avoid stiltedness. Also, your grasp of the characters is very good! (Including the emo brooding, which I personally like, but then I am a shameless Athos fangirl.) Would love to see what you'd produce in the way of slash.

By the way, have you considered posting these in andoneforall? Or failing that, may I post a link? Am sure people would love to read your stories.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:April 1st, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
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There's a Three Musketeers community? *hurriedly joins* I thought I was a lone voice squeeing in the wilderness. I'll certainly post the ficlets there!

(Including the emo brooding, which I personally like, but then I am a shameless Athos fangirl.) Would love to see what you'd produce in the way of slash.

Athos is the original Mr. Billowy Coat, King of Pain. And D'Artagnan has a massive hero-worshipping crush on him. much like the one I had when I first read the book back in middle school
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From:sodzilla
Date:April 1st, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Great! I'm presently on a pimping drive to get more people reading & writing Musketeers fic, and your stuff will definitely be a draw.

And emo-ness... oooh yes. Am I the only one who finds it telling that when d'Artagnan is offered a job in the Cardinal's Guards, it's Athos he thinks of? Not Constance or de Tréville or even Porthos and Aramis, just "Damn, I'm tempted... but waaah! Athos wouldn't wuv me any more!"

It all makes me wonder if Dumas could've made it so eminently interpretable all by accident, or if he meant to put in all that innuendo.
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From:elspethdixon
Date:April 3rd, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
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It all makes me wonder if Dumas could've made it so eminently interpretable all by accident, or if he meant to put in all that innuendo.

I'm never entirely sure either. I'm almost certain it has to unintentional, but... but... There's just so much of it. And the continual descriptions of Aramis and his girly girly OMGgirly! beauty don't help.

19th century novels are some of the best slash fodder ever penned. I'm sure most of those men and women swearing eternal devotion and clasping one another to their bosoms are doing so in a completely platonic fashion, but you occasionally have to wonder if the writers ever really thought about what they were writing. Then again, people in Dumas' time also wrote floridly romantic letters to friends of the same gender and never seemed to think twice about it. To quote somebody else on lj whose name I'm blanking on, "Curtain fic has no schmoop like a Victorian man talking about his 'particular friend.'"

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From:sodzilla
Date:April 5th, 2006 07:37 am (UTC)
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I sometimes wonder if homosociality is the key to it all. In such a rigidly divided society, there are a lot of experiences men go through that women can't share (and vice versa, of course, and childbirth wasn't that much less dangerous than warfare in those days...) The Three Musketeers also doesn't seem to put actual understanding of the other person in pride of place when speaking of love between a man and a woman - witness d'Artagnan and Constance, for example, they barely know each other (or have a chance to, to be fair) except for the fact that they have similar loyalties. On the other hand, sharing similar experiences and hardships the way the Inseparables do for example, naturally lends itself to the formation of close friendships. Significant pause optional. *grins*

(Oh, and would you mind if I friend you?)
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From:elspethdixon
Date:April 5th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
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(Oh, and would you mind if I friend you?)

Not at all. You can clasp me to your bosom and swear eternal devotion, too, if you'd like.

The Three Musketeers also doesn't seem to put actual understanding of the other person in pride of place when speaking of love between a man and a woman - witness d'Artagnan and Constance, for example, they barely know each other (or have a chance to, to be fair) except for the fact that they have similar loyalties.

It is a bit sudden, isn't it? D'Artagnan strikes me as the type who often falls in love "at first sight," at least with women (with men, he apparently feels the need to almost fight a duel with them first). He and Constance barely spend any time together, but the times they do meet are very dramatic and "romantic," and it's possible that he might have fallen in love more with the idea of Constance than with Constance herself.

Much like the Duke of Buckingham, who's apparently completely obsessed with Anne of Austria based on three or four brief meetings. Romantic love seems to happen very suddenly in 17th century France. It also doesn't seem all that concerned with things like monogamy ^_^. Apparently, if your husband is neglecting you, you're perfectly justified in cheating on him, as long as you pick a lover who's young and handsome and professes his devotion with sincerity (or one could follow the example of Mme. Coquenard and bribe a hot young soldier to be one's boytoy).

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From:sodzilla
Date:April 5th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC)
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*duly clasps* My friend, although as yet I barely know you, I feel that our common cause of slashing the Inseparables every which way creates a bond of sisterhood between us.

...re: the marriage thing, not sure if I can find it in my heart to condemn the ladies, since it's far from certain they actually had any choice in getting stuck with said husbands. Or the husbands with them. (That said, I wouldn't want to be the Duc de Chevreuse, who surely wins the title of most-cuckolded spouse in France throughout at least the first half of the 17th century.)

I absolutely agree with the part about d'Artagnan loving the idea of Constance. It's a common enough failing in young people after all. Which is why I tend to strongly prefer the slash pairings in this sort of fandom, because my idea of true love as opposed to true romance involves seeing the other's grumpy mornings and bad hair days, and knowing what they're like when they're drunk or worried or angry or just plain out of sorts, as well as all their good and pretty sides.

Oh, and *self-pimps shamelessly* do you follow 31_days? I'm doing daily drabbles there this month, for The Three Musketeers.

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