Love is the Most Selfish of All the Passions

Chapter 16

While Captain Treville went off to complete other business matters in regards to the prisoners he and his men brought in, Athos finally made his way back to the musketeers' garrison. However, before he walked inside, he was interrupted when Constance came running toward him carrying a basket of what he expected was probably food for him and his friends, though he knew she was really coming to make sure that d'Artagnan was all right.

He waited for her to catch up as she spoke up first saying, "Athos, thank heavens you're all right. And everyone else, are they all right?"

Athos smiled sadly as he replied, "D'Artagnan is fine, Constance. And so are Porthos and I, but…"

"But… Aramis, my God, is he…?" she started to ask until Athos cut her off.

"He's still alive, but only just," he answered wearily. "Come inside. D'Artagnan will be happy to see you."

As he opened the door and the two of them walked inside, Constance responded, "So, you know about that."

Athos nodded as he replied, "The two of you aren't exactly good at hiding how you feel about each other. Don't worry, we've all had complicated relationships. If the two of you are meant to be together, then everything will work out for the best."

When they walked inside the four musketeers' quarters, Athos found that King Louis' physician, Doctor Maloraux, was finally there working on their friend, while Porthos and d'Artagnan stood close by. The doctor didn't seem too thrilled about being there, which wasn't surprising since he hated the musketeers almost as much as the Cardinal did.

"Constance, are you a sight for soar eyes," d'Artagnan stated as soon as he saw her and walked over to her, then embraced and kissed her, no longer caring that his friends noticed that they were together.

"How is he doing?" Athos asked as he walked over to stand beside Porthos while the two of them looked down on Aramis.

Without looking away, Porthos answered in frustration, "He's still holding on."

It was then that the physician spoke up as he objected, "He may still be alive right now, but I wouldn't expect him to live past tonight."

"Listen, I suggest you keep that kind of talk to yourself, Maloraux!" Porthos said angrily as he grabbed him roughly by his jacket and shoved him hard up against the wall behind them. "Aramis has survived four days of hell and is still fighting, so I suggest you do whatever you have to do to keep him alive, or I swear I will…"

"You will what?" the physician asked as he pushed the bigger man's hands off him, while Athos moved in to pull Porthos away from him. "Will you kill me or beat me into the ground, Porthos? I don't think so. I am only saying what I believe is right. Your friend may have survived this long by some miracle, but it is only a matter of time before he passes over and I can see it in both of your eyes that you know I'm right."

Athos felt less confident than he knew the others felt, but he didn't show it as he responded, "You're wrong and Aramis will prove it."

Once Maloraux finished treating and bandaging all of their friend's wounds properly, he stood up again to face the others and then said, "Say what you want. However, if you really care for your comrade's wellbeing, I suggest you call for a priest. Most of the gashes across his back cut deep, the wound in his shoulder is a mess, which if he were to recover, he won't have much use in his arm, and he's lost too much blood. It's a pity that Aramis didn't stay on his path. He would have been much better off in the eyes of God if he remained in the priesthood. Oh, and by the way, I suggest you bleed him if you have any hope of bringing down his fever at all."

With that said, the physician grabbed all of his things he had brought with him, then stormed out, leaving the musketeers and Constance alone. Not a word was spoken between them as they stood over Aramis and looked down at him worryingly, seething about the things Maloraux said, until d'Artagnan finally broke the silence that filled the room, as he was curious about what the doctor had said about Aramis being in the priesthood.

"I didn't know that Aramis once trained to become a priest," he stated as Athos and Porthos sat down beside their friend, while Constance slowly handed each of the musketeers the food she had prepared for them.

"It was a long time ago and not something Aramis talks about," Athos replied quietly. "He used to be one of the Cardinal's students, before Richelieu's true colors were finally revealed."

Porthos gently poured water down his friend's throat and then slowly began to wash his brow and neck again as he continued, "Learning of the kind of man the Cardinal really was, it broke Aramis. He dropped out of the priesthood and lost faith for awhile. It was when he became a musketeer that his faith was renewed. It's a pity, if he stuck with it, I have no doubt that Aramis would have made Pope one day."

Athos quickly cut in again saying, "Although, he'd be the first to say that everything worked out for the best, but seeing him now… I'm not so sure. You both heard him, he's lost again and I don't know how we can help him come back from this."

D'Artagnan was about to speak up again until there was suddenly a quiet, but urgent knock on the door, making the musketeers stand on edge and when Constance finally moved to open the door, d'Artagnan swiftly pulled out his sword, then put it away when he saw a woman standing there, soaked from the rain despite the cloak she wore to cover her head and face. When she slowly and nervously lifted her hood, the musketeers were all shocked to discover that it was Queen Anne.

"Your Highness?" Athos asked in surprise as he quickly reached his hand out to her to invite her inside and then moved to remove her wet cloak. "We weren't expecting to see you, here inside the garrison of all places."

"When you said that one of you had been wounded, I…" she began until she fell quiet upon seeing that both d'Artagnan and Porthos were all right, confirming her fear that it was indeed Aramis who was the wounded musketeer now fighting for his life. "I know that I am putting all of you at risk by being here, but I had to see him. Is he…?"

Porthos motioned for her to follow him as he led her over to Aramis' bed, and as she slowly sat down, leaning over him as she began to caress his face, Athos spoke again saying, "Aramis is usually stronger than all of us, but…"

Without looking away from him, as tears began to fall down her face, Anne suddenly interrupted saying, "But the Cardinal did something. My God, this is my fault."

"No, Your Highness," Athos answered sadly. "The only fault lies with Cardinal Richelieu. He set a new plot to hurt Aramis into motion before we even left on our last mission."

"We believe that the Cardinal had someone write a letter claiming to have witnessed the death of Adele Bessette, Richelieu's mistress, whom Aramis had loved, some time ago," Porthos continued to explain. "Aramis was led to believe that she had chosen the Cardinal over him, but we know now that Richelieu had her murdered when he discovered that she had become loyal to us. The letter made Aramis blame himself for her death and his loss of faith in himself as a musketeer only heightened, then we were attacked, and he was captured and tormented."

Athos finally stated, "We can't prove any of this, Your Majesty, but you have the power to bring Richelieu down. You need to speak with our King, to make him pay for hurting Aramis and for trying to have you killed."

The Queen responded fearfully, "I can't do that. If only I had spoken with Louis about Richelieu when I had the chance, none of this would have happened, but now it's too late."

"The Cardinal has threatened you, hasn't he?" d'Artagnan asked as he could read the fear across her face, as did the others.

"Richelieu knows Aramis is the father of my child and not Louis," she replied, causing Constance to gasp in surprise at the revelation. "I don't know how he found out, but Richelieu came to me after Athos and Captain Treville left the palace earlier and made clear that he knows of our secret. If I go to Louis to take down the Cardinal, Aramis will be killed, destroying the musketeers as well. And if my husband were to show mercy and choose to spare Aramis' life, Richelieu threatened that he would have him killed. None of you would be able to protect him if he is no longer one of you. I am so sorry…"

The musketeers looked between each other angrily, realizing that the Cardinal was going to get away with hurting their brother after all, then Athos handed Anne the gold cross she had given Aramis as he answered, "Aramis will always be one of us and we will protect him no matter the cost. Cardinal Richelieu will fall one day. This cross was ripped from him when he was taken, but now you can give it back to him. No matter what you both choose to do about each other…"

Anne leaned down and kissed Aramis tenderly on his lips and laid the cross his chest, then looked between the musketeers as she responded, "I will always love Aramis, but I know that we will never be together. Keep him fighting and please, don't let him lose faith in himself. Our child and I need him."

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.