Constance tried her best to hide her yawn during the talks of her arranged marriage. This was just one of several prospects that her family had met with as of late, a tailor named Jacques this time whom seemed like the best match appropriate on the basis that she had a knack for sewing and enjoyed it.
Another time it might have interested her but Jacques Bonacieux was, on her assumption, completely dull. If this marriage would go through – and as the dutiful daughter aware that she was in the age range for marriage she knew it would have to – she had a feeling she’d have to force herself to okay with this.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, from what she understood Jacques would be away a lot either measuring clients in their homes or in his workshop and she would be free to take care of the household and sew to her leisure.
It was just missing something that was all.
The talks wound up and she walked him to the door, smiling genially at him and wishing him a good night.
He held her hand too long for her liking.
“I think this will be an excellent match Constance,” Her mother beamed at her when she walked back into the room and Constance tried her best to match it.
“Are there anymore suitors coming?” She asked, hoping quietly that there might be someone better out there.
“A few, there’s a du Vallon coming tomorrow.”
Her father frowned at the name, “Must be new, I’m unfamiliar with that name.”
To Constance it sounded as old as the rest of the names that had come through their door but she nodded her head and bid her parents a goodnight, wondering what this du Vallon would be like.
Monsieur du Vallon was late.
Her parents looked less than impressed and Constance herself was a little cranky having had to wake up earlier than usual to prepare for this – the least the man could do was give her the courtesy of being on time.
Which is why when he did arrive she walked past her parents to open the door.
“Does the sun in the sky mean nothing to you Monsieur du Vallon?”
It was hard to say what threw the man off, blinking in surprise, because if Constance had to guess it would have been less her tone and more the title of Monsieur.
She was hardly one to judge but it was easy to see that through awkward shuffling the man did and his attempts to straighten himself with a courage she might admire in a different mood that this man was new to the title.
He cleared his throat, “Apologies Mademoiselle.”
The accent in his tone suggested the lower streets of Paris, unpolished and rough but there was something soothing about it that made Constance relax just a little.
“I…er,” He gesture between the door and the area behind him and Constance mercifully caught on quick.
“Don’t be nervous.” She rested a hand on his arm, something inappropriate and if her mother saw she’d be hearing a lecture later that night. “I don’t wish to be here either.”
That made du Vallon laugh, a low hearty chuckle of someone who was as amused with breaking the niceties as she was.
Suddenly this didn’t seem so bad.
Constance glanced behind her and then shuffled outside, shutting the door behind her.
“We don’t have much time Monsieur du Vallon-”
“Porthos,” He interjected, offering her his arm and he took, “Time for what?”
“To escape and actually have a talk.”
“Ah,” Porthos’ brown eyes twinkled with amusement, “This way then.”
He lead them down the way of an alley that Constance hardly ever used, onto the bustling streets of Paris where they blended into the crowd and Constance nearly sighed in relief to finally be outside and getting a break from the relentless flow of men at her parents door.
She looked over and saw what she had missed before, a newly created pauldron, the leather still looking fresh with the symbol of the Musketeers etched in it.
“A Musketeer then?”
Porthos puffed up at that, the pride in him evident, “Jus’ joined.”
Which meant he had little if no money to his name, her parents would not approve – he probably heard of the arrangement and figured that he’d be getting money from this.
Constance pulled her arm away, feeling disappointed at this revelation.
“Constance.” She cut him off this time, despite this new information she preferred having equal ground and only fair he used her name too.
Before Porthos could say anything more however something hit Constance from behind, knocking her off balance.
“Watch where you’re going!” She snapped, steadying herself by grabbing onto Porthos’ arm and turning to see who had run into her but he was already gone, a few seconds later Red Guards ran after him.
“You all right?” Porthos asked her, looking down.
“What?” He was gone before she knew it, rushing after the Red Guards and Constance, never one to just let things like that go, ran after him.
By the time she got there the Red Guards had cornered a woman, their swords all pointing at her and Porthos had somehow gotten himself between them, acting like a human barricade.
He didn’t look worried however, more excited, gleefully boasting that someone had to make the first move and Constance wanted to swear because what kind of a Musketeer walked outside without their sword and was now waving a belt towards the people they were surrounded by.
What happened next changed her opinion slightly, one guard tried to rush Porthos and he barely made it a few steps before Porthos had smacked him with the metal belt buckle hard on his face, making the guard crumple to the ground.
Behind him the blonde woman took advantage of the distraction to slip out and deliver a punch in the throat to another guard that had his gasping for air and letting go of his sword which clattered the ground.
Constance hurriedly grabbed it, stepping forward and holding on with both of her arms to block the sword swing that arched down towards Porthos from another guard.
Her arms burned a little with the effort but the man was taken so off guard that she quickly flicked her wrist, disarming him and sending his sword flying much to her own surprise.
Somewhere Porthos was laughing and had wrestle a sword out of another guards hands and knocked him out with the flat of the blade, now engaged in an honest sword fight with the last guard.
Constance kept the sword she held pointed at the guard she had disarmed, breathing heavily from the excitement.
The blonde woman had grabbed the fallen sword and was pointing it at the guard she had rendered breathless before, her back towards Constance.
“Time to go,” Porthos’ voice sounded near her ear, so close she could feel his beard brush against it, his arm slipping around her waist to nudge her in the direction they should leave.
They ran out of the alley, swords in arms and leaving the guards behind them, Constance followed Porthos, somewhere in between her hand not holding onto the sword had found his.
Finally they came to a stop, gasping for air and everything that had happened truly sunk in, leaving Constance laughing.
“Is she all right?” The blonde woman stood in front of her, hands on her hips and though the tone was curious she was smiling at Constance and winked when she caught Constance staring.
That got Porthos’ attention however and turned to her, hovering and giving her a quick once over, she released his hand and waved him off.
“I’m fine, but you don’t seem to be,” She reached up to brush the cut across Porthos’ neck, thankfully not deep enough to need stitches least it match the scar over his left eye.
“He gets cuts like that all the time trust me.” The blonde snorted in amusement and Constance cocked her head.
“You know each other then?” Sudden horror dawned on her, she’d gotten into a fight alongside people she had just met and who had led her to a place she didn’t know.
“Grew up together, Constance this is Flea. Flea, Constance.”
Flea stuck out her hand for Constance to shake, grinning at her.
“Nice sword skills back there.”
They didn’t look like they were going to kill her so Constance relaxed, shaking Flea’s hand.
“Thank you, first time I’d tried.” The adrenaline was wearing off, she let go of Flea’s hand and slumped against a wall.
Porthos grunted something that sounded like approval as he dug in the bag Flea was wearing, pulling out clothe that could be used as a bandage.
“Here,” Constance stepped forward, taking it from him and she had to stand on her toes a little to tie it properly around his neck, making Porthos lean down at the same time to give some leeway and bringing their faces close together.
It was hard to ignore his solid form, the muscle that bunched underneath the plain blue shirt he wore that was now splattered with blood.
His breath tickled her face, calloused fingers brushed an errant curl that had fallen in her face back behind her ear and she had to swallow to concentrate on tying the bandage behind him.
When she finished her hands hovered behind him still, Porthos was smiling at her and mumbling his thanks in that rough accent of his that was slowly growing more and more on her.
A cough broke them apart, Flea standing at the side hiding her laughter behind her hand.
“Dare I ask how you two met?” Flea looked between them, more and more amused by the second.
Constance exchanged a glance with Porthos and then her eyes widened.
To say they were furious would be an understatement, her mother stared at her with disappointed eyes that Constance had once again snuck out of the house and it filled her with guilt.
But the rush of the fight and the streets stayed with her, humming in her veins and when she closed her eyes she could see Porthos next to her.
It was a surprise when he showed up at her door again, her father nearly throwing him out.
She edged her head subtly towards the side of the house, Porthos catching on and meeting her there once her father had stopped yelling.
“You need to stop coming, you’re just making it worse.” She whispered to him once she was outside.
Porthos looked hurt by that, nodding glumly, “I wanted to give you something.”
He pulled the sword of his belt, presenting it to her with an over exaggerated bow and a grin.
“Porthos! I can’t take this. Where am I going to put it?” She wanted to though, wanted to take it and learn the sword and the way Porthos had improvised in that fight without it and she just wanted to know what that life would be like.
Porthos stood, still holding the sword in his hands, “I was thinking…next to mine.”
“Porthos.” She sighed, hugging herself and taking a step back to distance herself away from him. “We can’t do this. My parents will never agree, they’ve already decided I’ll marry Jacques.”
Her shoulders fell at his name, a loveless marriage and cooped up in the role of housewife might just kill the part of her that wanted to explore the outside world.
“Besides, you won’t get anything if you do. My parents aren’t providing that much money.” She made herself say it, hurt that it needed to be said.
“What do you mean?” Porthos asked, confused.
She glared at him, “I mean coming here to marry someone for the money, don’t think I’m not aware what you Musketeers like doing.”
“That wasn’t…it’s not…” Porthos trailed off, “It started like that yea, but Constance it isn’t…would you be happy?”
“Happy. With me and I can’t provide much, probably need to stay in the Garrison for a few years to work up some money and I might gamble here and there but if you would be happy,” He shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant but was smiling at her a little hopefully, “I’d have that.”
She froze, staring at him.
“We’ve only known each other a few days.” She pointed out, trying to be reasonable.
“We can wait, get to know each other more.” He returned his sword to the sheathe and pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket, “If you want to.”
She took the paper from his hands, reading it over and looked at him puzzled why he would give this to her.
“I thought if you didn’t want to get married, just wanted to get out that might be an option. My captain can give you a recommendation.”
She looked back at the paper, an offer to be one of the Queen’s maidservants, and then back at Porthos.
This would get her out, if she worked for the Queen she didn’t have to get married right away, she could have all the time she needed.
She could visit Porthos, spend time at the Garrison and even meet Flea again.
See the world outside her house – with Porthos.
“Porthos.” She rushed forward, wrapping her arms around him and burrowing her face into his neck that was covered by a new bandage, she breathed in the scent of newly oiled leather and gunpowder and laughed when Porthos nearly picked her up when he hugged her back.
“You’ll do it then?” He let her go but she stayed close in his space.
“Yes.” She smiled up at him, “But I expect you to visit as I’ll be visiting you.”
“Of course.” Porthos replied, mock serious.
She hesitated for only a second before leaning up to press a kiss to his cheek.
“Thank you Monsieur du Vallon.” She said back with the same seriousness.
“At your service Mademoiselle.” Porthos bowed again, making Constance laugh.
“Go go, I’ll have to share this news with my parents. I’m certain they’ll be thrilled,” Though she was mostly joking they might actually. Her mother would think that such a position would keep her out of trouble.
Porthos nodded and then, on a whim, took one of her hands and raised it to his lips, kissing it with a soft look in his eyes.
She watched him walk away feeling lightheaded with excitement towards the future.
Constance du Vallon, it had a certain ring to it.