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(seek thy) Mercy

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He should have known. He should have expected it. The situation had all the hallmarks, after all. All his triggers. But he hadn't thought of it, and Porthos hadn't thought of it, and Athos hadn't thought of it - or if they had, they'd assumed he'd remembered. And now he was stuck out here with d'Artagnan, who meant well but had no idea what was happening.

He hadn't even felt it coming on. He should have, but it was all buried under the end of mission rush. Especially this mission, with the problems they'd faced. He couldn't remember when he'd rested last; he'd been unable to relax when they'd returned to the garrison. He didn't blame Treville for sending him out, just so the rest of the Musketeers could get some rest.

d'Artagnan's hand was on his arm, looking for attention. Aramis looked up, squinting against the flare of light. Damnit. They weren't even going to make the next town.

"...wrong?" d'Artagnan said worriedly. Too loud and too close; Aramis shied away, nearly coming off the horse. d'Artagnan caught at his reins, holding him steady.

Aramis gestured for silence, relieved when d'Artagnan obeyed without question. He slid carefully down from the horse, making for a clearing just off the road. He had to stop on the way to throw up; it sent spikes of pain through his head, and he closed his eyes with a moan.

d'Artagnan brushed against his arm, ready to withdraw if he was in the way. Aramis reached blindly for him, feeling the younger man take his weight. They walked slowly for a minute before d'Artagnan helped him sit down.

Aramis pulled restlessly at the grass under his hands, trying to focus on anything but the building wave of pain. When it broke, he'd be swept away; he had to speak now, much as the thought made him nauseous again.

"d'Artagnan," he said, keeping it as low as he could. Even that hurt; he swallowed the moan.

d'Artagnan brushed his arm again.

"Don't worry," Aramis said as strongly as he could. The words were tripping him up now. He had only moments. “Since Savoy - this, sometimes. Passes. A day, two.”

“What do you need?” d’Artagnan asked, obviously making an effort to keep his voice down.

“Just quiet. No waking. No questions.”

d’Artagnan nodded. Holding up a waterskin, he made sure Aramis had recognised it before tucking it carefully against him. He pulled off Aramis’ boots, weapons belt, and pauldron; he was clearly trying to be gentle, and Aramis gritted his teeth and endured. He knew it would help, overall.

Finally, finally d’Artagnan guided him to lie back. Something was under him, blanket or cloth, he couldn’t tell and didn’t care. Another was draped over him. He pulled a fold around his head, curling around his belly.

d’Artagnan touched his shoulder lightly, and then he was gone, and Aramis was alone as the pain broke over him.

He sipped the water, when he could, knowing he needed it. He threw up twice more, aware of someone helping him, holding him steady and cleaning him up afterwards, and doing it in silence. The waterskin went away and was replaced by another; a hot stone, wrapped in cloth, was pressed against his stomach, and when he pushed it out fitfully it vanished as though it had never been there. There was a fire somewhere nearby, behind him where the light couldn’t hurt his eyes, keeping him warm during the night. All of those moments were interspersed with moments of blank nothingness and moments of terrible pain.

He woke in dim, stuffy light, staring blankly upwards. Something grey was overhead; he reached up, curious, and felt cloth overhead. With that information he felt his vision adjust; it was a blanket, draped above him and held off with criss crossing branches. The mini tent covered his face and part of his chest, keeping him in the shade. He could feel sunlight on the rest of his body; it was either late morning or early afternoon, judging by the air.

He eased carefully out of the mini tent, admiring it as he went. d’Artagnan had to have put it together in silence; it couldn’t have been easy for him.

d’Artagnan himself was kneeling over the fire, concentrating on it. Aramis cleared his throat without trying to speak; bitter experience told him he’d be better off staying silent for a while yet.

d’Artagnan twisted to look at him. A broad smile broke across his face and he waved enthusiastically. Aramis returned the salute with rather more restraint; he ached everywhere, he suddenly realised. Not uncommon, after an attack, but annoying.

d’Artagnan lifted the kettle he’d been fiddling with, making a questioning face. Aramis considered for a moment before gesturing small. d’Artagnan nodded, turning back to his work, and a couple of minutes later he offered Aramis a cup of thin soup.

He worked quietly around the camp while Aramis sipped at the soup. He was impressed at how well d’Artagnan was doing at keeping things quiet; he was gregarious at heart, and staying quiet this long had to be hard on him even without the extra care he was taking with his chores.

He finished the soup and cleared his throat again, with more purpose this time. “How long was I sick?”

“Almost two whole days,” d’Artagnan said, abandoning whatever he was doing and coming to join him. “You came off your horse in the early afternoon on Tuesday, and it’s Thursday today. I was trying to think of how to get a message to the garrison today.” He was still keeping his voice low and even.

“I like the tent. How did you think of that?”

“The light was bothering you, even in your sleep. It’s not much, but I couldn’t break the branches I wanted or go too far away.”

Aramis frowned. “Have you slept?”

“Bits here and there. You were restless. I’m not sure how much I helped.”

“You can sleep now, if you want. I should sit still for a while anyway.”

d’Artagnan shrugged, fiddling with the cup. “We really should send word to the others.”

“They know which way we were coming; we’re close enough to the road. They’ll find us. Rest.”

“Can you tell me?” He was still focused on the cup, not looking at Aramis; trying to spare his embarrassment, Aramis suspected, a noble if somewhat misplaced gesture. “If this happens, if it’ll happen again…”

“It’s not usually so bad,” Aramis offered. “I have ways to deal with it. I just missed the warnings this time.”

“Tell me?”

Aramis sighed. d’Artagnan started to withdraw the question, but he shook his head. “No, you should know. It’s not fair to you otherwise.”

He took a moment to think about it, and then he told d’Artagnan about the head injury he’d received at Savoy, how in the aftermath he’d found himself occasionally suffering debilitating headaches. “I learned to tell when they were coming on,” he told him, “and there are herbs I can take. They don’t completely stop it, but they ease it a little, make it easier to deal with.”

“But you missed it this time?”

“Before it hits I feel - jumpy. Restless. More hungry than usual. But this time, after that mission? We all felt jumpy, and we were all either eating more than usual or eating nothing at all. I didn’t realise what it was. I should have; I did hit my head, that sometimes brings one on.”

“Athos and Porthos know this?”

“And Treville, although I’m not sure he knows how bad it can get; he’s mostly only seen me when I’ve taken the herbs.” He studied d’Artagnan for a moment. “It doesn’t happen as often any more. Only a couple of times in a year.”

“Only,” d’Artagnan muttered. “You’re not the one who had to watch you go through that.”

“It must have been hard,” Aramis agreed quietly. “Especially as you had no idea what was happening. I’m sorry for that. We should have warned you about it, but…” He shrugged. “I’d hoped it wouldn’t be an issue. Hubris, I suppose.”

"And that's all there is to do? Let you sleep it off?"

"That's all," he agreed. "Sleep, quiet, darkness. You did very well."

He smiled a little. "I'm glad. So now what?"

"I'm sorry?"

"You said you should sit for a while?"

"Ah." He nodded. "Yes, I'm a little sore and stiff. It will ease during the day. I should probably avoid hard riding or large crowds today, but I don't see that being a problem. This time tomorrow, I should be fine."

"Do you keep the herbs with you?"

"The herbs?"

"The ones that help. Are they in your kit?"

Aramis carefully didn't laugh. d'Artagnan was taking it so seriously, but he must have been scared. "Yes. Bring me the kit and I'll show you."

He showed d'Artagnan the herbs, explaining how to prepare and take them, when they were useful and when it was too late for them. “It’s unlikely you’ll need to know this,” he told him. “I normally have this under control.”

“Except for today,” d’Artagnan noted, packing the kit away again.

“I hit my head during a stressful and difficult mission. That combination is rare.”

d’Artagnan nodded. “If you don’t mind, I think I will rest for a while.”

“Of course. Take your time. If the others don’t catch up to us, we’ll move on when you wake up.”

d’Artagnan nodded, wrapped himself in his cloak and settled near the remains of the fire. Aramis watched until it was clear he was asleep; then he turned to keep watch, protecting the boy who had protected him without question.

“Sleep well,” he murmured, watching the road his brothers would be coming down. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

 

d’Artagnan wasn’t sure what was happening, really. Treville hadn’t explained, just ordered Aramis to go on a routine delivery mission “and take someone with you.” Aramis had been jumpy since they returned from the observatory, but so had everyone. The mission had been too close to disaster, too many ways it could all have gone terribly wrong. No one had been fully able to relax.

Treville didn’t really have the authority to send anyone on missions any more, but that hadn’t stopped Aramis from draping an arm around d’Artagnan’s shoulders and inviting him along. d’Artagnan hadn’t really wanted to go - he wanted to be where Constance was, explore whatever it was they’d decided on - but if Aramis wanted him along, Aramis would have him along. Even if he’d only been asked because he’d happened to be standing next to him at the time.

Aramis had been more or less normal on the way to deliver the letter, but as they headed back to Paris he grew quieter. d’Artagnan might not have paid much attention to that - even Aramis had off days - but he was also squinting, as though the sun was bothering him. That was strange mostly because the sun was almost directly behind them.

Aramis was falling behind. d’Artagnan slowed his horse, waiting for the older man to catch up. When he didn’t seem to notice, he reached across to touch his arm.

Aramis flinched away; not from the touch, exactly, but d’Artagnan couldn’t tell from what, and now he was worried. “What’s wrong?”

Aramis recoiled, almost unseating himself. d’Artagnan grabbed at the reins, holding his horse steady. Aramis gestured urgently for silence; d’Artagnan nodded slowly, still not sure what was going on but certain there had to be a reason.

Aramis moved very stiffly as he dismounted, still shying away from something d’Artagnan couldn’t see. He wavered slightly as he walked, concentrating intently on each step. d’Artagnan was halfway through dismounting when Aramis leaned over to throw up; he almost fell out of his stirrup, letting go of both sets of reins. The horses were too well trained to wander far.

He caught himself before speaking. Instead he touched Aramis’ arm lightly, not sure what to do. Aramis answered that question by reaching for him; something was off, and after a moment d’Artagnan realised the older man had closed his eyes, screwing them up tightly. Whatever this was, it was getting worse fast.

He guided Aramis carefully into the clearing. It wasn’t ideal - too close to the road, really - but he wasn’t going to try and get him any further. He helped Aramis sit once he’d found the best spot.

Aramis was plucking at the grass beside him. His whole face was screwed up, and he was hunched in on himself. “d’Artagnan -” He had to pause, swallowing hard. d’Artagnan touched his arm again in lieu of speaking.

"Don't worry," Aramis said. “Since Savoy - this, sometimes. Passes. A day, two.”

“What do you need?” d’Artagnan asked, as quietly as he could. He didn’t recognise the symptoms, but Aramis seemed sure enough.

“Just quiet. No waking. No questions.”

d’Artagnan nodded. He had a waterskin looped over his shoulder; he wasn’t sure Aramis could see it, past whatever he kept squinting at, but he held it up for a minute anyway and then tucked it against Aramis’ side. He carefully pulled off the other man’s boots, pauldron, and weapons belt; he was being as careful as he could, but he could see Aramis flinching at the movements. He laid out his cloak and helped Aramis lie down on it. He draped Aramis’ own cloak over him; it’d do until he could unpack the blankets. Aramis gripped it tightly, curling up on himself.

d’Artagnan hesitated. He didn’t want to leave Aramis alone even for a minute, but he couldn’t whistle for the horses from here and he couldn’t leave them to roam on the road. He pressed Aramis’ shoulder lightly and went to retrieve them.

Aramis was dozing uncomfortably when he came back, and he dozed, mostly, for the next two days. He was restless and uneasy, sometimes murmuring in Latin or Spanish. d’Artagnan couldn’t follow it - he knew enough Latin for Church and little more, and only a handful of words in Spanish - but he gathered enough to know that Aramis was pleading for someone else’s safety. Maybe he thought they were still in Marmion’s conservatory?

He was aware enough to drink, occasionally. d’Artagnan kept an eye on the waterskin and refilled it when it was getting empty. Twice Aramis threw up; d’Artagnan steadied him as best he could and cleaned him up when he was done. He tried a hot stone, since Aramis’ stomach still seemed to be bothering him, but he pushed it away irritably and d’Artagnan didn’t have the heart to try and force him. He piled on an extra blanket instead.

He didn’t dare try and sleep. He lit a fire, out of Aramis’ eyeline so the light wouldn’t bother him; he kept it small, hoping that no one would see it, because Aramis was clearly incapable of fighting right now. Tending it gave him something to do during the night other than listen to Aramis talk on and on, something to focus on to keep himself awake.

The second day was worse. Aramis had stopped throwing up, but he’d also stopped drinking, and he flinched away whenever d’Artagnan tried to help him. He was still mumbling, but it was only sounds now; d’Artagnan couldn’t make out any words in any language.

The sunlight bothered him. d’Artagnan sat beside him for a while, shielding him, but that wasn’t practical in the long term. He had to move around the camp to attend to things, and Aramis suffered more when he’d been in shade for a while.

It took him an embarrassingly long time to come up with the solution, but it was easy enough to do once he’d thought of it. His father had taught him how to make hides for hunting, and this was basically the same thing. It was almost fun, figuring out how to do it with the resources he had; he didn’t have proper rope, but there were reeds nearby that he could plait together, and he couldn’t go deep enough into the woods to find good branches, but he found acceptable ones on the edges of the clearing.

He did as much of the work by the fire as he could, and planned it all out carefully so that he’d be able to do it smoothly and quickly and spare Aramis too much movement near him. It didn’t matter, in the end; Aramis didn’t react in any way. d’Artagnan carefully set up the frame and draped their last blanket over it. Aramis’ head would be in shade all day now. Hopefully it would help a little.

The night dragged terribly. He found himself drifting every now and then; he shook himself awake each time, eventually resorting to getting up and walking around. He didn’t want to risk wasting water, or he’d have splashed his face. He hadn’t seen any sign of a water source nearby and couldn’t risk leaving Aramis to look further afield. They had maybe another day, at the rate they were using it now.

It didn’t matter much, of course. They were well overdue at the garrison; the others would be looking for them very soon. Hopefully they’d be found. If not, d’Artagnan would have to risk leaving Aramis to look for someone to carry the message to the garrison.

Aramis seemed calmer as the sun rose. He was still more restless than d’Artagnan liked, and he pulled away when d’Artagnan tried to give him a drink, but he wasn’t talking any more and the shade seemed to be helping. Whatever it was that had happened to him, it looked as though it was easing off.

d’Artagnan quietly decided to wait until noon before leaving to try and send his message to the garrison. He’d written it; it was ready to go. But he couldn’t bring himself to leave Aramis before he absolutely had to. A messenger would reach the garrison before dark if they left within an hour or so of noon, and he didn’t want to be away from Aramis for any longer than that anyway.

He ate some of their trail rations - unenthusiastically, but he knew well enough that he needed to keep himself fed. Bad enough he hadn’t really rested the last two nights. Athos would have something to say when he found them if he thought d’Artagnan had been neglecting himself.

Noon crept closer. Aramis was much calmer, but he didn’t seem to be waking. d’Artagnan went back to the fire to make himself a hot drink before he left, trying to remember their path. Better to ride backwards, towards the last town they’d passed, or forwards towards Paris? He was more likely to find someone willing to ride to Paris in the larger town, but they’d have further to go, and he wasn’t sure how far it was to the next village. He’d allotted two hours to this, no more, and he didn’t want to waste that time searching for something that wasn’t in his reach.

He was working himself in a terrible state - much more, he knew, and he’d be unable to go anywhere, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself - when Aramis cleared his throat from behind him.

He was awake.

 

 

 

They weren’t rushing. This wasn’t a crisis. Not yet.

Aramis and d’Artagnan were late, but there could be any number of reasons for that. Lame horse, pretty barmaid, a delay in receiving the reply. There was no need to worry yet.

They were having trouble keeping their horses to a trot. Both kept finding themselves speeding up unconsciously. There wasn’t any point in speeding, though; they didn’t know exactly where the others were and couldn’t risk missing them.

They still might have, in the end, but for a flash of Musketeer blue through a stand of trees. Porthos reined in, studying the trees carefully. Athos stopped beside him, watching the road ahead, just in case.

That was definitely a Musketeer cloak, hanging from a branch, unless Porthos was mistaken. He dismounted, tossing his reins to Athos and slipping quietly around the stand of trees, some way to one side of the flash of blue.

He saw d’Artagnan first, curled on the ground near the smouldering remains of a fire, back to him. He didn’t look hurt, but there was a stiffness in his shoulders. Something had clearly happened.

Then he saw Aramis, and realised what it was.

He slipped noiselessly back to the road, waving to Athos to dismount. “Aramis has had an attack,” he said, checking his water skin and spare blanket.

Athos closed his eyes for a long moment. “Head injury. How did he seem?”

“Upright. And d’Artagnan’s sleeping, so they must think Aramis is all right.” He draped the blanket over his arm. “Come or stay?”

“I’ll be along.”

Porthos nodded. Athos would need a few moments to gather himself, he knew, to keep himself from shouting at Aramis the moment he saw him. That wouldn’t do anyone any good right now. He picked up his saddle bag and turned away.

Aramis looked up when Porthos slipped through the trees. Porthos could read pain in the lines around his eyes, but he was relaxed enough that the worst had to be over. He lifted a hand in greeting.

Porthos frowned at that, studying him. Aramis rolled his eyes, gesturing to d’Artagnan, still asleep nearby. Porthos mouthed “Ah,” sitting next to him. He touched Aramis’ cheek lightly, questioningly.

“I’m all right,” Aramis said quietly.

“Bad?”

“Bad enough. Scared about ten years off d’Artagnan’s life, I think.”

“You didn’t feel it coming on?”

Aramis shrugged, poking idly at the fire.

“We should have asked.”

“It’s not your job. How angry is Athos?”

“Quite a lot. He’ll calm down.”

“Do you think so?”

“Did you ignore warnings?”

Aramis shook his head quickly. “No. I didn’t even register them.”

“I wondered why you were blanking Marguerite,” Porthos mused.

“I what?”

“Walked straight past her without reacting. You must have been fading even then.”

“I don’t remember,” he admitted.

“Well, no. You never do. We’ve have whole conversations you don’t remember afterwards.”

“So you tell me, but I think you’re making that up. How would I know, after all?”

“Sleeping,” d’Artagnan muttered irritably, flicking his cloak up over his head.

“Be nice,” Aramis warned Porthos, catching the look on his face. “He worked hard to help me, and he didn’t really know what was going on.”

“I’m always nice.” Porthos smiled.

“Hmm.”

“Sleeping,” d’Artagnan said again.

“Sleep on, lad, we’re not stopping you.”

d’Artagnan unfolded enough to glare at him. “Where’s Athos?”

“Taking care of the horses. He’ll be here in a couple of minutes.”

“Go back to sleep,” Aramis told him. “We won’t be moving on for a while yet.”

“What’s this?” Porthos pushed himself to his feet, wandering across to the odd wooden contraption.

“It’s my shade,” Aramis told him. “d’Artagnan built it to keep the light from bothering me.”

“Thought you said he didn’t know what was wrong.” It was surprisingly steady for being thrown together in a hurry, Porthos noted, rocking it lightly.

“I didn’t know. It wasn’t hard to figure out.” d’Artagnan sat up, pointedly smoothing out his cloak.

“It’s clever,” Porthos told him. “We’ll have to remember it for next time.”

“It’s nothing much,” d’Artagnan demurred. “I’m glad it helped.”

“I shall use it again tonight,” Aramis said solemnly.

“We’re staying tonight?”

“Probably. Athos likes to be careful about these things.” After a moment he added “There’s no need to worry. I’m fine.” Porthos glanced up, but whatever had prompted the reassurance wasn’t visible now; d’Artagnan seemed perfectly at ease.

“I’d better get something ready to eat, then,” he commented, starting to rise.

“Stay there,” Porthos said, “I’ll take care of it.” He did feel a little bad. d’Artagnan was obviously tired, and it must have been hard, taking care of Aramis with no real idea what was going on.

“We pretty much have biscuits and dried meat left,” d’Artagnan told him, sinking back down. “And not much water, I couldn’t go to refill the water skins.”

“We’re stocked up,” Porthos assured him. “I’ll go and see what we have for tonight, and tomorrow we’ll head back into town.” He was careful not to make it a question; Aramis would feel obliged to agree even if he wasn’t up for it. Athos would decide in the morning.

He dug through his saddlebag and pulled out the makings of a meal. Not gourmet cooking, but they were used to field rations and Aramis probably wasn’t up for a heavy meal anyway.

Athos appeared as he was working on the meal, ghosting up to him at the fire and silently offering a couple of pieces of fruit from his own bag. Porthos grinned at him, setting them aside for dessert. Aramis loved fresh fruit, especially when he wasn’t feeling the best, but pointing out how odd it was that Athos happened to have some in his saddlebag wouldn’t go down too well. “This’ll be about ten minutes.”

Athos nodded, poking at the fire.

“You should go talk to him.” He glanced over; d’Artagnan was lying down again, on his back this time, hands moving as he described something to Aramis. Aramis was nodding along, but Porthos wasn’t sure how much he was following.

“How is he?”

“Tired. A bit embarrassed, I think. Apparently d’Artagnan took it like a trooper. Rigged up a shade when he realised light was hurting him, kept quiet. Never left him, either, they’re just about out of water.”

“Fortunate that we came along,” Athos murmured.

“Yeah, ain’t it?” Porthos agreed. “Now go talk to him and let me get this cooked. Quicker he gets some food in him, the better.”

Athos sighed, pushing to his feet and crossing the clearing. Porthos watched long enough to be sure he was actually going to join them and not vanish on a very important chore; then he turned back to the fire and concentrated on the food.

 

Athos took care of the horses, slowly and carefully, letting the anger drain away with each deliberate movement. Aramis wasn’t the only one at fault here; they all knew he was terrible at paying attention to his own health, and the mission in Marmion’s observatory had been all but designed to bring on an attack. Neither he nor Porthos had thought of it, and they should have. No point in blaming anyone now; it was done.

Porthos was working at the fire when Athos peered through the trees. He backtracked quietly to the horses, fishing out the fruit he’d carefully packed. Silly superstition, but when anything went wrong for Aramis, Athos carried fruit for him. It had no bearing on the outcome, but it made him feel inexplicably better.

Porthos grinned when he handed over the fruit, but he didn’t say anything. Athos was quietly grateful. He wasn’t sure he could handle teasing, even kindly meant teasing, without lashing out.

“You should go talk to him.”

“How is he?” Athos had carefully not looked yet, but Porthos’ lack of worry was encouraging.

“Tired. A bit embarrassed, I think. Apparently d’Artagnan took it like a trooper. Rigged up a shade when he realised light was hurting him, kept quiet. Never left him, either, they’re just about out of water.”

That was surprising. d’Artagnan was always willing to do anything necessary, but Athos had never known him to improvise particularly well. “Fortunate that we came along.”

“Yeah, ain’t it? Now go talk to him and let me get this cooked. Quicker he gets some food in him, the better.”

Athos sighed, pushing to his feet and crossing the clearing. Aramis probably hadn’t eaten since the start of the attack, which might have been as much as three days ago, so he couldn’t argue with Porthos.

d’Artagnan was talking animatedly, if more quietly than usual. He trailed off when Athos sat down next to them, rolling over to study him for a moment. “Why don’t I go be busy somewhere else?” he suggested, hauling himself to his feet.

“Thank you for helping Aramis,” Athos said before he could vanish.

d’Artagnan grinned, shrugging. “Someone had to.” He headed for Porthos, dropping beside him.

“He didn’t mean that,” Aramis murmured.

“Yes, he did,” Athos said evenly. “It just wasn’t an accusation.”

“No, it wasn’t.” Aramis blinked, frowning at him. “No?”

“You should have noticed, but so should we, and now you’ll have someone extra looking out for you.” Aramis pulled a face; Athos ignored it. “How are you feeling? Truly?”

“This wasn’t the worst attack, but it was bad enough,” Aramis said honestly. “I’ll be glad not to travel today; I’m weaker than I’d like. Proper sleep and something to eat and I’ll be fine by tomorrow. Are we in a hurry?”

“No, but we do either need to return tomorrow or send word. If you’d rather not travel, we can send d’Artagnan back to report.”

“I should be fine by tomorrow,” Aramis assured him.

“And if you aren’t, you’ll let us know.”

“Yes.”

Athos nodded. Aramis had never been untruthful about this. “Good.”

d’Artagnan came back over to tell them the food was ready. Aramis looked for help to stand, and Athos shadowed him to the fire, aware of d’Artagnan on Aramis’ other side. They made it without incident, though Aramis looked over pleased to sit. Porthos had cooked up a thin stew, and there were biscuits; d’Artagnan fell on it as though he was starved.

Aramis picked at his, but he ate enough. Athos and Porthos kept up a light conversation, letting him eat at his own pace. d’Artagnan joined in once he’d eaten, stretching out on his side, head propped on hand, watching the fire drowsily. Whatever sleep he’d had, it clearly hadn’t been enough, and Aramis had had even less.

When it became clear that Aramis was only still eating to make them happy, Athos took his plate away. Porthos nudged d’Artagnan until he got up, growling, and flopped onto one of the pallets already laid out. He was asleep before Athos had walked Aramis to the other one.

“Rest,” he said quietly. “Porthos and I will keep watch.”

Aramis nodded, already mostly asleep. Athos sat beside him until he was sure he was asleep; then he went to join Porthos in looking after the camp.