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Maltese Amis

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Malta, 1565

“Come along, through here--watch your step, the footing can be tricky--the infirmarer will look to your husband’s injuries,” the draper said, tripping across the tiled floor. The next room was bathed in light spilling in from the windows cut into the stone walls.

“It’s merely a scratch, a lucky strike whilst breaking up a fight. Ask Brother Feuilly when he comes in.” Brother Bahorel on the nearest cot protested, masking a grimace of pain with a cheeky grin at the newcomers. “Brother Joly, you have pilgrims to attend, leave off poking more holes in me.”

The infirmarer, Brother Joly, rolled his eyes, smiled pleasantly whilst assessing the couple with Brother Lesgle. He nodded for Brother Prouvaire to ring for a serving sister and a squire--most likely Eponine and her scamp of a brother, Gavroche to attend the pilgrims until he was satisfied Bahorel’s wound was properly sewn and dressed. Brother Bahorel, the turcopolier, usually sparred and fought more with the rag-tag native troops he commanded than against Barbary pirates or the threat of the expanding Ottoman Empire. It often was a draw who sustained more injuries, Bahorel or the unlucky Bossuet, the order’s draper.

Brother Lesgle, Bossuet, was explaining to the couple Joly’s expertise in both western and eastern medicine was sought far and wide not only here in Malta, but throughout the Holy Land as well. “Madame, you mentioned your husband is a man of languages? Jehan, Brother Prouvaire, is also a man of words.” He indicated the serving brother assisting the infirmarer. “He will enjoy speaking with you both during your stay with us--”

“They will fulfill their promises!” From a side door a brother knight in full armor entered, fair hair gleaming like a halo in the sunlight as he crossed before the window. He continued to rant about popes and kings who go back on their word to provide supplies and men to orders such as Les Amis de l‘ABC off-shoot of the Hospitallers. Two chaplain brothers entered on his heels.

“Enjolras, not in the infirmary, please. Dictate more missives to Jehan once his duties here are finished,” Brother Combeferre spoke calmly, unfazed by Brother Enjolras’s diatribe. He turned back to Brother Courfeyrac, answering his grin with a tiny curve of his lips before continuing their philosophical conversation. In the foreground completing the tableau, a cynical huff sounded from Brother Grantaire as he smoked his pipe.

Mme. Pontmercy--Cosette--sighed in relief as the urchin, Gavroche (who’d directed them to the hospital after scaring off their attackers) entered and assisted Marius to a cot being careful of his injured arm.