Being the novice in a seasoned corps full of bravado was hard enough without being so used to the seminar routine. Being up in the wee hours of the night was not a trouble at all, but missing the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve because he had to be present on guard was something he was not ready to concede. M. de Treville said he could try to change his duty to another musketeer but there was no one available and that soured his disposition considerably.
One cold night when they went to their usual tavern but he was not in the mood to dine and drink, there was only end to follow those two numbskulls to that obscure and dank place, and it was his last resource before he had to bow to harsh reality. Athos was just appointed Sargent for Christmas Eve guard, and what are friends for?
“Athos,” Aramis finally said once the musketeer poured himself a cup of wine, “I know you are responsible on Christmas Eve, could you cover me this one time?”
Athos shook his head before raising that damned cup of wine to his lips. Aramis slammed both of his hands against the rackety table, out of himself because he didn’t even deem necessary to give an apology or excuse, he just served his negative with a sign.
“Because I was entrusted to a duty,” Athos put the cup down, “And I swore to comply it with the best of my capacity, that’s why.”
Athos cast his eyes on Aramis, it was his way to let the newcomer know there are things one must not trifle with. Like his duty, his wine or his temper. Aramis gave up; six months were enough to know he can be stubborn if one brush him the wrong way.
“I protest the unfairness of your stance!”
“These things sort to happen every time,” was Athos laconic commentary. “Mostly, to us.”
“Except to you!” Porthos interjected, “You volunteer for the job, I was there and you dragged me in.”
“Not to me, at least it hadn’t happened to me for the last ten years,” Aramis disregarded Porthos’ dissent and sat on the unstable table to vent his disappointment to them; at least both of them were born with a sympathetic ear. “I don’t know why we can’t have a free night on Christmas Eve.”
“Neither do I,” Porthos said and laughed at Aramis surprised face, “After all, their majesties could spend a nice night at home without the need of service or personal protection. And while we are at it, could it be much to ask a pint of red wine every morning? It would do us good.”
“On my word, Porthos, sometimes you make me doubt my Christian charity!”
How on heaven’s name he managed to find this sort of friends?
Under protestation, with his worst attitude, Aramis presented himself for duty, although he rather be standing in any church giving his undivided attention to a stuttering, old priest than warm in the more secluded hallway of the palace where Porthos relations let them share a tankard of cider from the hands of a pretty maid.
A little later the bells rung in the distance, Aramis lifted his head, heeding the call and for a moment, his heart ached in longing for the life he left behind, there was a little aftertaste of annoyance at how disappointing his actual life was. It was there when the voice made him pay attention.
“Adeste fideles laeti triumphantes,”Athos clear baritone voice sound loudly from the other side of the hallway, the same way he shouted orders when the responsibility befell on his shoulders. “Venite, venite in Bethlehem.”
Athos was not seeing him, yet the Christmas carol was resounding clearly among the window panes.
“Natum videte regem angelorum.” Chanted Porthos by his side and poked Aramis with his elbow, like he was encouraging him to join the fun.
A stern gaze of Athos made Porthos behave, but that didn’t stop him from continuing: “Venite adoremus…”
“Venite adoremus,” Porthos sang; his hat in his hand, his eyes rose to the ceiling, either in concentration or adoration.
For a moment Athos’ head hung like he was on church.
“Venite adoremus, Dominum,” Aramis gave in and the three of them sang in unison.
Soon other good dozen of voices followed them and the whole guard was caroling with different grades of success. Aramis never felt this accepted in the seminar.
One for all and all for one, after all.