“It wasn't the wearing of the hat that counted so much as having one to wear. Every trade, every craft had its hat.”
Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
“Kicking, biting, gouging, it’s all good,” said Porthos, gripping the young Gascon’s shoulders, wiry through the thin grey shirt. D’Artagnan’s breath steamed white in the void of the grey air, the black trees, the white snow. Her (his, Porthos corrected himself) his body steamed also, the humours running high, the passion and the bloodlust, the fear, a dash of insecurity under it all. The kid’s first duel, he thought. Not nearly the first scrap or brawl or deathmatch, o’ course. But to lie awake at night planning out a battle and tracing the steps one might take, the stroke and counter-stroke, weighing the skill of a man. D’Artagnan’s body trembled slightly under his hands: fear, passion, bloodlust. Her - his - chin ticked up.
On the Gascon’s other side, Aramis bent his head, looking very Spanish in a dove-grey hat and a laced collar, and murmured confidently in her ear, “When this is over, we’ll buy you a hat.” D’Artagnan huffed a nervous laugh. Aramis flashed a sudden fox-grin and straightened the brown-and-ochre neckcloth about his protege's throat, fingers neat and gentle, primping.
Porthos tugged the wide black brim of his own hat to set it more firmly over the bandanna that wrapped his head. “‘Less you’d rather have best brandy,” he offered. He shared a worried look with Aramis behind the cadet’s head, keeping a soothing hand on d’Artagnan’s shoulder as Aramis did, as they would calm an anxious horse before battle.
Athos loomed in front of the trio, himself wrapped against the cold, doublet buttoned up, scarf drawn tight around his own vulnerable throat and his brown leather chapeau set at an impeccably rakish angle. “You don’t have to do this,” he cautioned, ever fair. “This is Musketeer business.”
Porthos could feel the young one swell under his hands: a warhorse collecting her weight ready to strike. “Brandy,” she told Porthos, briefly turning her head. “When it’s over I want brandy.” Shifting her grip on her sword, she nodded at Athos, who paced to the centre of the clearing, glanced coolly to the other side, where a Red Guard by the name of Francois was being prepared by his own seconds, and lifted a grubby handkerchief high.
He dropped it. Black hair flying, d’Artagnan ran into the fight.