Fandom: The Musketeers
Warnings: canon-level of violence, historical character death
Summary: From the fling between a musketeer cadet and a theology student to not with you/not without you relationship between the captain of the guard and the first minister of France Treville and Richelieu have never been able to stay away from each other.
From surviving the coup of Maria di Medici to deliberately sacrificing a whole regiment to distract the Duke of Savoy they couldn't have been closer or farther away from each other.
A chronicle of Treville's and Richelieu's relationship from the beginning to the end.
A/N:Written for the all4onebigbang.
Art done by the absolutely lovely and incredibly talented theharvelleroadhouse
The first time they meet they’re both young. Treville is sixteen and has just been accepted into the cadets while Richelieu is already into his third year of training. It is tradition to take the new cadets for drinks into the best brothel a cadet can afford.
The wine is strong and goes to Treville’s head quickly. He tries to pay attention to the whores but gets distracted by the piercing blue eyes of the older cadet on the opposite end of the table. Richelieu has light brown hair and looks pale next to their comrades but those sharp eyes send shivers through Treville.
Their comrades pay no attention, too occupied with wine and women. And Treville never understood how close fear and excitement lie until Richelieu leaves the table to go upstairs. Halfway up he looks back, right at Treville, and tilts his head to indicate he should follow him.
Treville almost trips over himself following him and his friends make jokes about what beautiful whore he must have seen at the banister to be in such a hurry. Treville flushes but keeps quiet. Even drunk he has enough self preservation not to tell them he’s about to bed a fellow cadet. Although even if he did, they would most likely take it as a joke.
Upstairs he follows Richelieu through a door only to find himself pressed against it as soon as it’s closed. He’s all too content to follow Richelieu’s lead who seems to know what he’s doing.
Treville never remembers all the details from that night and those he has are marred by the truly colossal hangover he has the next morning when he wakes up to an empty bed. But he remembers how great he felt underneath Richelieu’s hands, the pleasure building up until it was almost pain.
It’s enough to keep an eye out to see if he ever runs into him again.
To Richelieu’s eternal relief his brother Alphonse decides to become a monk. Since the bishopric of Luçon has been rewarded to his family it means he has to forgo a military career for an ecclesial one.
Within a week he has resigned from his regiment and enrolled in the Sorbonne. It’s not that he dislikes the military per se but he prefers academic pursuits. He greatly enjoys his studies and the discussions with his professors. His interests extent beyond theology and into politics, diplomacy and the theory of the state.
A year into his career change Richelieu enjoys a bottle of wine and the company of two girls in his favourite brothel when the door opens to reveal the cadet he enjoyed a year ago. Richelieu notes he has filled out, muscles straining against his shirt, but he still blushes like a boy when his eyes meet Richelieu’s.
Richelieu gestures him to come over and sends the girls for more wine.
“I thought you had left Paris”, Treville says when he sits down.
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“You and I have very different definitions of disappointment.”
Richelieu smirks. It seems the boy has found his wit somewhere along the last twelve months. The night holds the promise of being very entertaining. “My brother thought it necessary to join a monastery so I need to take his place as the family bishop.”
“And this is your idea of a pious life I suppose”, Treville grins.
“You talk as if you have never met a priest in your life. Or a student for that matter.”
Treville laughs and a girl brings the wine. Richelieu sends her away as soon as she has set the bottles down. He’s interested to see what other tricks Treville has picked up during the past year.
For a while they talk about friends they have in common and the general state of their lives, laced heavily with innuendo. Treville gives as good as he gets and he doesn’t even blush when Richelieu announces his intention to find more pleasurable company for the night.
“I thought I asked for more pleasurable company”, Richelieu says once the door is closed and Treville is behind him, grabbing his hips to pull him backwards.
“The girls are busy”, Treville says, hungrily kissing Richelieu’s neck.
“You’re stealing their income.” Richelieu turns around in his arms. He has little patience for clothes tonight and he still remembers how to quickly strip off a soldier’s uniform.
“Are you complaining?”
“Whatever gave you that idea?” Richelieu asks and wipes Treville’s cheeky grin from his face with a kiss. Treville is slightly smaller than him but stronger. Once they have their clothes off he can push Richelieu on the bed without much effort but if he thinks Richelieu gives up that easily he’s mistaken. Richelieu is not above fighting dirty to gain the upper hand.
This night and most of the following ones until Richelieu graduates leave them with bruises and scrapes and always yearning for more. They’re young and not yet burdened with responsibility and maybe even a little in love.
Not that either of them would ever admit it.
Treville is bored out of his mind. Everyone acted as if calling the Estates General would result in open warfare on the streets but so far they haven’t done anything but quarrelling. Everyone wants more privilege but none are willing to give it to the others as well. A few punches being thrown have so far been the highlight of the week.
That is until a man takes the podium that Treville recognises only too well. It’s been seven years and Richelieu’s hair has receded and his face sharpened but he still wields words like a weapon. His sheer presence makes the people listen even if they do not agree with him and to be honest, most don’t. Richelieu gives as good as he gets and suddenly Treville enjoys watching the debate a lot more.
“If I had heard that the musketeers themselves would guard this assembly I might have come earlier”, Richelieu says when he finds Treville after the debate has been broken up for the day.
“Shouldn’t you be more worried that you didn’t hear it?” Treville asks back. “Poitou seems to be very far away from Paris indeed.”
Richelieu gives him a grin that is all teeth. “I have heard about you if that calms you. The rising star of the musketeers, the best fighter since Montalet.” His hand brushes against Treville’s as they walk. It’s short enough not to raise suspicion but Treville knows it’s deliberate.
“The regiment is camping outside the town walls”, Treville says.
“I am sure a night of leave can be arranged”, Richelieu replies.
“Perhaps, but where would I stay?”
“Is your captain that harsh that he wants to know exactly in which brothel you’ll be staying?”
“Maybe I’d like to know which brothel I’ll be staying at.”
“The Queen’s Crown is supposed to be excellent. Although maybe you should ask your fellow musketeers, perhaps they can recommend something more to your taste.” There’s a challenge in Richelieu’s eyes and a question.
“The Queen’s Crown has a room right under the roof. It’s their best”, Treville answers. “If I make there by seven it should still be free for use.”
Richelieu’s appearance at the Estates General has given him the attention of Concino Concini, first minister of France and favourite of Maria di Medici. He joins the court officially as almoner of the young Queen Anne but she has her own personal priest and speaks so little French that he couldn’t hear her confession if he had any interest to do so.
Maria di Medici is power hungry but has the disadvantage of being a woman and Concini is a foreigner. The nobles like neither of them and Richelieu knows he has to calm the waves if he wants to avoid a civil war.
Concini needs a scapegoat. Someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so Richelieu gives him Treville. The rising star of the musketeers regiment is admired by the young king and Richelieu knows that Concini and Maria di Medici won’t be in power for much longer. Not only is Louis growing restless but Concini is an abysmal statesman.
So when Treville is brought before the court Richelieu puts on his best performance so far. He argues, pleads and defends him in front of the king to change the death sentence into a prison term. When the Queen and her minister are removed from power Louis will remember that Richelieu defended his favourite and it will cushion his own fall.
If Treville ever suspects that Richelieu set him up he never mentions it.
Richelieu never asks, even after the incident has ceased to be relevant, but he always assumes Treville knows it was him who betrayed him and that one day he will take revenge.
Richelieu uses his exile to Avignon caused by Maria di Medici’s fall from power to write. He knows it is only temporary and as soon as he’s back in Paris he won’t have much time for his leisure anymore. Maria di Medici is hungry for power and she won’t stay in exile forever. Richelieu is in the king’s good books but also in hers. Now he only has to wait.
Once the news of Maria di Medici’s escape have made it to Avignon Richelieu counts the days until a messenger from Paris arrives who will lift his exile. Many nobles resent the influence the new Duc de Luyens has over Louis and he’s not a good statesman either. Not as abysmal as Concini but the flaws are glaring to Richelieu.
He’s not surprised when the messenger Louis sends is Treville. The last two years have been kind to him or as kind as they can be to a soldier. They saw each other briefly after Treville was released from prison and his current appearance is definitely an improvement.
Richelieu is surprised by the hunger he feels when he looks at Treville. He rarely thought about him during the last two years but now that he sees him his hands are itching to touch him.
He’s at his prime: broad shoulders, bulging muscles, intelligent eyes. Richelieu is not quite sure how he’s ever meant to resist such a sight and so he doesn’t. It’s just as much of a fight between them as it has always been but by now Treville has realised that he can simply take from Richelieu what he wants.
To be fucked like this is exhilarating. Treville has him up against the wall and is holding up only by sheer strength. And for a moment they’re seventeen again. Incredibly young and passionate and grabbing the world with both hands, conquering it with wild dreams and hate and love.
For one sweet, terrible, indescribable moment they could destroy themselves in love and the world with them.
“The King wants you back in Paris”, Treville says afterwards, still out of breath. “To act as an intermediary between him and his mother.”
“Then I guess you’ve packed and are ready to leave.”
“I need another day or two to arrange my affairs here”, Richelieu answers. It wouldn’t do to look to desperate to return to the court. Louis needs him if he wants to avoid a civil war and with the Catholics and Protestants tearing themselves apart in the Holy Roman Empire any weakness on the King’s part could mean that that conflict would envelope France as well.
When faced with the united front of Louis, de Luyens and Richelieu Maria di Medici agrees to negotiate. She knows that her true way to power lies in Paris and so she agrees to any and all terms as long as she can return to court.
Richelieu advises against it but Louis is sentimental and Charles de Luyens is underestimating her because she’s a woman. Out of the two of them Richelieu takes him for the greater fool.
And surely his next move is to go to war against the Protestants, citing a possible rebellion now that the Holy Roman Empire is torn asunder. But he’s the King’s favourite and Richelieu’s own standing is solely dependent on the King so he cannot be seen in opposition to de Luyens.
Furthermore as a catholic he has to agree with de Luyens decision to go to war against the Protestants but as a councillor of France he sees the situation in the east and knows that the protestant forces could be the key to break the Habsburg stronghold in Europe. No one needs another St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.
He and Treville are still seeing each other but less so than when he was a student and Treville a cadet. Richelieu has no intention to give his enemies ammunition against him by being indiscreet even if that means reigning in his urges.
There’s talk of making Treville Captain of the Musketeers. Louis thinks the world of Treville and for once Richelieu agrees with the King’s taste in men. Treville possess loyalty, intelligence and a decent amount of guile, which Richelieu appreciates, not that he would ever tell him that.
When de Luyens dies of a fever during the campaign against the Huguenots, Richelieu gives Louis his condolences and later celebrates the news with Treville in the backroom of a brothel. This is god himself at work to tell him that he’s the right man to lead France into glory, he’s sure of it.
His first move is to remove Maria di Medici from court. She’s as power hungry as ever and it’s not hard to manipulate evidence to make her look guilty of another coup. If she was smarter, more politically-savy Richelieu would’ve kept her. But for France’s sake he cannot afford to leave incompetent people in positions where they could harm her rise to being the most powerful state of Europe.
Christine de Savoy, Louis’ sister, sends a worrying letter to her brother, saying that her husband suspects a spy in his household and that his confessor suspects her. Louis shows the letter to Richelieu and Treville with wide fearful eyes, reminding Treville of a puppy who has lost his favourite toy. He reminds himself that he should not think of the King of France as a dog no matter how much he behaves like one sometimes.
“Armand, what should we do?” Louis asks.
“Rest assured your Majesty that I will do whatever necessary to ensure that your sister is seen as beyond suspicion by the Duke”, Richelieu answers.
Treville suppresses a shudder when he hears the words whatever necessary and tries not to think about the fate of the late Charles, Duc de la Vieuville, Richelieu’s predecessor as First Minister of France. The glint in Richelieu’s eyes tells him he has a plan and like most of Richelieu’s plans he’s not going to like it.
“And so will Captain Treville”, he hears Richelieu say and bows to Louis.
“Whatever necessary will be done your Majesty”, he says but his eyes meet Richelieu’s.
It’s for the good of France, he reminds himself.
Treville is not surprised when Richelieu leads them to Treville’s office at the fort instead of his own. The palace walls have a lot more ears than the musketeer’s training grounds.
Despite knowing that Richelieu already has a plan, Treville wonders what that plan is going to look like. They will need a scapegoat and evidence so certain that the Duke’s confessor will be swayed completely from mistrusting the king’s sister.
“We’ll send a regiment to the border of Savoy and leak information that they’re there to attempt an assassination. It will serve as a distraction for the duke while my men take care of the priest.” Richelieu explains once the door of Treville’s office is closed behind them. “Maybe a little note to Christine to be more circumspect in the future.”
Treville’s first instinct was right. He does not like this plan. “That is dangerous.”
Richelieu rolls his eyes. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
“If any of this goes wrong – “
“ – the Duke will know that his wife spies on him for her brother and she’ll most likely die especially since he already has a son by her”, he finishes for Treville. “Do you see another way?”
“No”, Treville says heavily.
Richelieu lays a hand on his shoulder. “Think of the consequences for France if we fail”, he says and the gesture is as threatening as it is comforting. They are in this together. Both of their futures, their lives depend on the success of their plan.
“Damn you and your politics”, Treville says.
“We are already damned”, Richelieu replies calmly. “And it has nothing to do with politics.”
One part of the plan succeeds without a hitch. The Duchy of Savoy is one priest poorer and Paris one prisoner richer. The King’s sister is safe to continue spying on her husband and the Duke’s suspicion scattered into a different direction for now.
As for the other part of the plan, there are no news from the regiment until a badly injured Aramis makes his way back to Paris and brings the news of twenty dead musketeers and the desertion of Marsac.
Treville locks himself in his office with a bottle of cognac. Wine simply won’t cut it.
Around midnight when he’s just drunk enough to take the sharp edge from the grief he feels for the slaughter of his men there’s a knock on the door. He opens it because he knows who’s standing on the other side and it’s not one of his men.
“What do you want?” He asks when he comes face to face with Richelieu.
Richelieu enters his office and locks the door behind him before he pours himself a glass as well. “You knew this would happen.”
“Could happen”, Treville corrects him.
“Don’t play stupid”, Richelieu says sharply.
“You overestimate me.”
“No”, Richelieu says in a tone that leaves no room for argument. “Also everything happened according to the plan, the plan we made.”
“Twenty of my men are dead”, Treville says in the vain hope that one day Richelieu will show an reaction to the lives that are lost in the ruthless games he’s playing.
“We are at war. I did what I had to do. And so did you.” At this moment Treville doesn’t yet know how much he will grow to hate those words: I did what I had to do.
“I hate it when you do that: pretend that nothing’s wrong”, Treville says. The death of twenty of his men is lighter on his consciousness than he can even admit to himself. Overall the mission was a success and it feels like he got a taste of Richelieu’s world.
It’s not a good place to be.
“You could hate me for much worse things so I’m fine with that”, Richelieu replies and it makes Treville furious, more furious than he can remember ever being before.
He grabs Richelieu by his waistcoat and kisses him angrily. It’s full of teeth and more a bite than a kiss. He wants to punish Richelieu, wants to tear him apart, wants to make him feel the same pain that Treville feels. But Richelieu is not a man who takes without giving back as good as he got.
Later there will be rumours that the captain of the musketeers and the first minister of France had a fight, explaining bruises and scrapes and both of them will encourage those rumours to hide the truth. For now neither of them think about the consequences as they tear into each other.
Following the massacre at Savoy he takes Aramis under his wing. Perhaps it is guilt and he’s a sentimental fool just like Richelieu always accuses him of being but he cannot help himself. Aramis has lost most of his friends at Savoy and the only one who survived abandoned him. He cures his grief with wine and the company of beautiful men and women. The men are less of a problem but the women tend to be married or are the lovers of rich and influential men.
Treville uses his influence with Richelieu to get a law passed that forbids duels to make sure Aramis makes it through his mourning phase alive. Richelieu lost his brother to a duel so it’s not that hard to persuade him.
Aramis is not the only new appointment to Treville’s personal Squad. The others are Athos, really the Comte de la Fere, but for some reason he prefers not to be called by his title, and a young cheerful soldier named Porthos who had established himself as a fierce fighter during the expedition against the Huguenots in Bearn.
Treville takes all three of them with him when the King decides to personally lead the siege of La Rochelle. With the situation within the Holy Roman Empire escalating the Protestants see their chance to regain the power they had under Henry and England sees a chance to meddle in French affairs. The other protestant strongholds have already been crushed over the past two years and now only La Rochelle remains. It is one of the strongest fortresses in the entire country and with England supplying them from the sea it won’t be an easy feat to take the castle.
Richelieu’s short-lived career as a soldier comes in handy now. When Louis arrives in La Rochelle the castle is already under siege and the longer the discussion about future actions between Louis and Richelieu lasts, the clearer it becomes that Richelieu would’ve made an excellent officer.
“Captain?” Aramis asks as he arrives at Richelieu’s rooms. Treville excuses himself from the discussion and walks to him. “The camp is ready. A few of the men have requested leave for tonight.”
“No leave for the following week. First I want to know how the situation is in town. I cannot afford to lose my men through petty acts of retribution.”
“I could – “Aramis starts but Treville lays a hand on his shoulder.
“Not tonight. I cannot lose you either. Find Athos and Porthos and we’ll eat together.”
“Thank you, Captain”, Aramis smiles and bows respectfully before he leaves. Treville hopes that being away from Paris will help to cure his grief.
When he returns he finds Richelieu’s eyes on him and the expression on his face almost seems angry but it vanishes before Treville can be certain of what he saw.
“Who was that?” Richelieu asks.
“Aramis, he’s one of my men and I appointed him to my personal squad shortly after you left”, Treville replies.
“I heard of him”, Louis says. “He’s the best shot in the whole regiment.” He looks very pleased with himself for knowing that titbit of information.
Richelieu doesn’t look pleased at all.
“Will I see you tonight, after dinner?” He asks under his breath when Louis has left them.
“I thought you might be too busy, now that you have someone new to keep your attention”, Richelieu’s tone is uncharacteristically sharp for such a trivial matter. He’s not usually picking a fight over who Treville appoints to his personal squad and for a moment Treville cannot fathom why he suddenly would but then it hits him. He laughs which only serves to raise Richelieu’s ire more.
“I am sure it is a funny matter to you but the musketeers of the guards are responsible for the king’s personal safety and Aramis – “
“You’re jealous”, Treville interrupts him still smiling. With anyone else he’d be insulted at the insinuation that he’d sleep with one of his men but Richelieu’s jealousy is too hilarious to even consider it.
“Don’t be stupid”, Richelieu says but Treville can hear the faint embarrassment in his words. He walks around his desk to stand in front of Richelieu and rests his hands against the side of his neck, his thumb tracing the line of Richelieu’s jaw.
They’re usually not tender with each other, for a lot of reasons. But maybe it’s time to accept that after fifteen years neither of them is going anywhere.
“What are you doing?” Richelieu asks voice filled with irritation.
“You have nothing to worry about”, Treville says and kisses him. It grows heated soon. With campaign against the Huguenots going on they haven’t seen much of each other lately.
When Treville pulls Richelieu in the direction of his bedchamber Richelieu asks, “Don’t you have an appointment for dinner?”
“I still have time”, Treville replies impatiently. He wants Richelieu, has perhaps never wanted him so much before and all of that because of a simple display of jealousy. He pulls Richelieu towards him, kisses him and kisses him until they have to break apart, gasping for air.
"God damn you", Richelieu says.
Treville laughs and reaches to find Richelieu's hand, threading their fingers together.
"No, you. You damn me," he says.
“I should go before they come looking for me here”, Treville says later and sits up. The sheets slips from his shoulder to pool in his lap, allowing the firelight to lick and flicker over Treville’s skin and scars, reminding Richelieu how precious this is, how fragile – how mortal Treville is.
And how easily he can lose all this.
Richelieu is not a sentimental man but he wishes he could protect Treville if only because he’s the only man Richelieu can stand.
Treville begins to get dressed while Richelieu lounges in bed, content to simply watch.
“You never answered my question”, Treville says, pulling his boots back on.
“Will I see you after dinner?”
“You better”, Richelieu says and pulls him into a kiss that shows Treville just how much Richelieu wants to see him later.
The King of course does not spend the whole time at La Rochelle. He has a country to rule and his mother’s coup has left him unable to trust anyone else with his power except maybe Richelieu who so far has only acted to further consolidate France’s power.
“He’s an excellent man, our cardinal”, Louis says when the news come that Richelieu has destroyed England’s attempt at reliving the Huguenots.
“He is certainly a loyal servant to France”, Treville replies. The reports show that Richelieu is not squeamish when it comes to casualties, the enemies’ or his own.
Louis keeps reading and starts to frown. “It says that Richelieu has not been seen since England’s defeat and that Toiras suspects he could have been killed.”
Treville ignores his heart thumping in his chest. “The report has been written in the immediate aftermath of the battle, your majesty. I am sure the next dépêche will clear up the confusion.”
“I cannot wait that long. We will ride to La Rochelle by sunrise, captain.”
“As your Majesty wishes.”
Louis grips Treville’s wrist tightly. “He cannot be dead. Tell me he’s not dead.”
“Cardinal Richelieu is not a man who falls through an English bullet”, he tries to sound convincing but then de Luyens wasn’t the kind of man who’d die of a camp fever and he still did.
When they arrive in La Rochelle the King’s flag flies high over the castle.
“Captain, find out what’s the meaning of that”, Louis demands.
Treville swallows an inappropriate comment about the castle obviously having been conquered and goes to find Toiras, Richelieu’s aide-de-camp.
He finds both of them Toiras and Richelieu, just outside the destroyed gate of La Rochelle. The wind coming from the sea whips up the waves and blows Richelieu’s red cape dramatically. Treville is not an artist but he thinks a scene like this should be preserved.
Richelieu turns slightly to avoid being sprayed with salt water and sees Treville who can see that Richelieu’s left arm is in a sling.
“What are you doing here? My message couldn’t have possibly reached Paris yet”, he says.
“The King received a report, stating you were possibly dead and he was worried”, Treville tells him.
“Toiras, find the king and apologise for causing him distress with your over-active fantasy.”
Toiras bows and hurries into the direction of the camp.
“I thought you were dead, you arse,” Treville growls, his own worries breaking out now that they’re more or less alone.
“Did you miss me?” Richelieu teases, knowing it’d only infuriate Treville further – and hide how much he wants to know the answer.
“Not at all.”
“Liar.” Richelieu grins and downs his own drink.
“If I thought I would never see you again I would kill you myself”, Treville says and Richelieu smiles because he knows it’s not a threat but a promise.
Treville cannot help but be jealous of Jules Mazarin. By now he is old and disillusioned enough to admit it. And after close to twenty years he’s mostly resigned to the fact that Richelieu’s place is in his life is permanent. Until death do us part and all that. At least for him it is. He’s not so sure about Richelieu. It’s not that he has mistresses. They both do and it has never mattered. But Mazarin is different. In many ways he’s a younger version of Richelieu himself: clever, devious and ambitious. They’re both clergymen and have similar interests and political views. Treville can see why Richelieu wants him on his side.
But there’s this niggling voice in the back of his head that tells him there’s more to it. Mazarin is attractive, young and charming. Treville was there when they first met and he has seen the instant connection between them, the spark. Richelieu doesn’t like people and especially not instantly, not from the first meeting on. Hell, he and Richelieu can’t stand each other on most days and they’ve known each other for more than 20 years. But after all that time there’s more depth between them than Treville has with anyone else and he thinks that counts for something.
Or, more likely, he’s every inch the sentimental fool Richelieu accuses him to be.
“Here you are”, Richelieu says as he enters Treville’s tent without announcing himself.
Treville leans back into his chair and takes a sip of wine. “Is there something you need?” He asks and knows his words are slightly slurred. But he felt that the situation called for more wine than was prudent.
Richelieu gives him a long, unimpressed stare. “The King has asked Mazarin to accompany him back to Paris.”
“Did he now?” Treville doesn’t doubt for a moment that it was Richelieu who made an invitation for Mazarin look like a good idea. “Mazarin is a man of the church, is he not? Shouldn’t you be talking with the captain of your guard about this?”
“He’s the King’s guest, not mine.”
Treville snorts derisively. “That’s one and the same.”
“I see”, Richelieu says. “Perhaps I should come back another time, when you’re feeling more reasonable, Captain.”
“If that’s what you want maybe you should go to Mazarin. He seems reasonable”, Treville spits the last word out like it’s the gravest insult he can think of.
Richelieu is half turned to go when Treville’s words reach him. Treville can see how he connects the puzzle pieces in his head. The tent flap falls from his hand and he rolls his eyes. With two long strides he has crossed the room and takes Treville’s face into his hands. “Mazarin is very much an admirer of the fairer sex and only of the fairer sex.”
Treville feels himself blush something that doesn’t happen all too often anymore while Richelieu looks somewhere between amused and exasperated.
“You have nothing to worry about”, Richelieu echoes his words from four years ago.
“I didn’t worry”, Treville says. “No more than you did about Aramis.”
An impish grin appears on Richelieu’s face that Treville hasn’t seen in years. “You were hideously jealous then. That’s good to know.”
There’s a sense that they’re entering some kind of near-fatal contract, that by acknowledging that there is something between them it’s too late to turn back and make it mean nothing.
Treville surges up to kiss him, their mouths clashing as if they didn’t know how to do better.
“Not here”, Richelieu says, his breath ragged, and tries to push Treville away. “It’s too dangerous.”
“Not if you’re quiet”, Treville replies, the wine making him reckless.
“If I’m quiet?” Richelieu asks incredulously but Treville’s already kissing him, his hands slipping between Richelieu’s clothes.
A cot is not the same as the luxurious bed in Richelieu’s Parisian house or even the mattress in the backroom of Treville’s office but it’s better than nothing. The thin canvas walls are the real problem but they’re both too busy to leave marks on each other to make much noise. It has always been a little like this with them, slightly illicit, perpetually breaking one rule or another.
This time it’s not a poisoned skull or a musket ball from across the gardens. It’s a simple, ordinary fever that has Richelieu confined to his bed. Although going by the face of the court physicians there is nothing simple about it.
Rumours that Richelieu is on his deathbed are spreading fast through the kingdom and have many nobles stirring restlessly. Richelieu has many enemies and if someone asked Treville he’d say that more people are praying for Richelieu’s death than for his recovery.
It’s the first time that Mazarin steps in for Richelieu and Treville has to grudgingly admit that he does a good job. Especially the Queen seems to favour him but Anne generally seems to like men who treat her like she’s their equal and not just a pretty face. Ever since the failed plot to get her killed and the birth of her son she and Richelieu have been getting along better as well.
Richelieu respects clever, competent people and Anne is certainly shaping up to be both. It helps that they see eye to eye when it comes to France’s best interest.
“I ordered something else for dinner”, Richelieu says when Treville enters his room with a bowl of soup on a tray.
“Those doctor’s who thought I’d die or those who thought I’d live?”
“I didn’t listen to those who said you’d die for a single moment. Obviously they were fools”, Treville replies and sits the tray down on the nightstand.
Richelieu looks from the soup up to Treville. It is his favourite kind of soup. “You’re an insufferable bastard.”
Treville grins. “Will you stab me with your cutlery?” For most people it wouldn’t be evident but he can see the shadows under Richelieu’s eyes and the energy it costs him to sit up.
“The blood would undoubtly ruin the message from Mazarin that you’re carrying with you and I’d be deprived of important news.”
Instead of arguing with Richelieu, knowing he would inevitably lose the argument anyway, Treville cups his face in his hands and kisses him. He pours all his feelings into the kiss, the anxiety, the fear, the relief.
“That’s more like it”, Richelieu hums against his lips.
“Eat your soup”, Treville says and sits down in a chair next to Richelieu’s bed.
“All of this for a woman”, Richelieu says after Treville read Mazarin’s letter to him about the capture of Montmorency, the main conspirator of Prince Gaston in this rebellion.
“A woman?” Treville frowns. The messages from the Langedouc mentioned no women whatsoever.
“Louis’ brother Gaston eloped with Princess Marguerite of Lorraine”, Richelieu explains. Treville doesn’t ask how he can know this when he has been confined to the bed for the past few weeks and Mazarin has been absent.
“Lorraine is France’s enemy. Wouldn’t that be a good way to make peace with them?”
Richelieu laughs. “Let us be forever grateful that you did not go into politics. As long as there’s a chance that Gaston could be king one day this marriage is the path for Habsburg to take control of France.”
“Still, if he loves her, that should be enough, shouldn’t it?”
“Perhaps”, Richelieu’s lips curl into an almost smile. “And perhaps we should all run around naked like Adam and Eve in paradise.”
This time it’s Treville who laughs. “It is good to see you haven’t lost your bite while you were ill.”
“You sound as if you were worried.”
“Never”, Treville says without missing a beat. “If I learned one thing over the last twenty years it’s that you will only die when you deem it appropriate.”
The following years see some minor conspiracies aimed at removing Richelieu from power. With Maria di Medici’s death in exile those seem to die down, especially when the Queen gives birth to another boy and removes Prince Gaston even further from succession.
But just as before Richelieu’s declining health has the nobles rearing their heads like dogs sniffing for an injured fox.
Gaston is to be expected on the side of the conspirators but the actual ringleader is Cinq-Mars, the king’s favourite and the son of an old friend of Richelieu. That they signed a treaty with Spain only makes it worse.
Louis’ anger is loud and short like a storm. He demands the heads of the conspirators. This, more than anything else, shows how important Richelieu is to him. Anyone who thinks that Richelieu’s position has been weakened by his and Louis’ recent arguments knows better now. That the nobles responsible for the plot have fled Paris doesn’t faze him. He sends his musketeers after them. No mercy for those who are caught.
If Louis’ anger is like a storm then Treville’s fury is like winter: cold and unforgiving. He personally arrests Cinq-Mars and stands in the first row when he’s executed.
“You’d think they wouldn’t have bothered with someone of my health”, Richelieu says when Treville brings him the news of the trial.
“They thought you’ll bounce back again”, Treville replies and sits down at the edge of the bed.
“Unlikely this time.”
Treville wants to protest but he can’t lie to himself. The fever attacks have come more and more often lately and they’re more severe every time. Richelieu is coughing up blood and he drinks laudanum by the bottle against the pain in his arm. It will end sooner rather than later.
Still, thirty years are a long time and Treville wants him to hang on as long as possible. A future without Richelieu in it looks bleak.
Instead of telling him any of this, Treville says, “I don’t look forward to butt heads with Mazarin. He’s as stubborn as a mule.”
Richelieu laughs which turns into another bloody cough. There are flecks of red everywhere: the pillows and the sheets, his lips and nightshirt. “He’ll learn soon enough.”
They’re silent for a long moment that is interrupted by Richelieu.
“It was me who betrayed you to Concini”, he says. It’s not a deed he needs to confess to a priest but he feels like he needs to tell Treville. Mostly because he wants to know if Treville already knows what he did.
“I know”, Treville says.
“Is that why you didn’t get your four dogs off my back until recently?”
Treville grins. “Revenge is petty. But I figured after I nearly got you killed after that incident with the Queen you deserved a break.”
“How gracious of you.”
“Prince Louis is – “
“The son of your musketeer Aramis. Yes, I know. I’m ill not an imbecile.”
“Prince Philippe is too.”
“The point stands.”
“Why did you never use that?”
“Who said I didn’t? But Louis is a clever boy, a lot smarter than the king and more mature. He’ll be a good ruler. And the last time a French bastard became king he conquered England.”
“Not that you’re ambitious or anything”, Treville says dryly.
Richelieu is about to reply but another coughing attack interrupts him. Treville holds him by the shoulders so he won’t jar his arm too much while he hacks up a lung. Almost literally going by the amount of blood. His body feels frail underneath Treville’s hands, a word he has never associated with Richelieu before.
Treville takes a cup of water mixed with wine from the nightstand and gives it to Richelieu, whose hand is trembling when he takes it and who sinks back into the pillows afterwards, clearly exhausted.
It cannot be time yet. It cannot ever be time, not for this.
“Take your time before you follow me to eternal damnation”, Richelieu says. His voice is weak and hoarse from coughing.
“Maybe, other than you, I will confess my sins to a priest and renounce Satan.”
Richelieu gives him a dry smile. “The deathbed is not the place to make enemies. And confessing sins without regretting them won’t grant you salvation. I wrote a whole book about that.”
“And of course you know more about this than God.”
“He wrote one book. I wrote four”, Richelieu replies.
“Don’t let a priest hear you.”
“I don’t think adding blasphemy to my list of sins is going to make that much of a difference.”
“Probably not”, Treville says and leans down to kiss him. The kiss is slow and gentle, things they are not, nor ever were, with each other. It makes it almost unbearable to both of them.
“I should go. You have to be tired”, Treville says, standing up.
Richelieu catches his wrist. Their eyes meet and Treville understands that this is as close as Richelieu can come to asking him to stay. It won’t be long and he doesn’t want to die alone.
“Jean”, Richelieu says, his eyes dropping, heavy with exhaustion and fatigue. “I will see you in hell.”
Treville gives him one last smile. “Yes, you will.”
Four years after Richelieu dies Treville retires from his position as captain of the musketeers. He and Mazarin have never gotten over their initial dislike and it makes working with him difficult.
Except for D’Artagnan all of his four best have left the regiment as well.
Athos has gone back to his estate to raise his son who’s the spitting image of his late mother with his dark hair and blue eyes.
Aramis has taken the cloth, as he had once intended to do and a position at court which allows him to spend more time with his sons and the Queen. If Louis suspects anything he keeps quiet about it.0 Many were surprised by Aramis’ decision especially since he seems to have given up on having lovers and is every inch a respectful and pious priest. When asked he only says that his heart is set on a woman so unattainable that no other woman could even come close.
After meeting her again Porthos finally married Alice and gave up his soldering life for her. Out of the four of them Porthos seems the happiest. Family life suits him as if having a loving wife and half a dozen children under foot was all he ever needed.
So Treville makes sure to appoint D’Artagnan as his successor and returns to his home village. Little has changed since he left and managing the small estate his father has left him is by far not as challenging as his former profession but he likes that. Sometimes his friends visit.
He doesn’t marry. His sister has children and grandchildren who will inherit the estate. He prefers an uninterrupted life. His former position left him with enough excitement to last a lifetime.
It’s a quiet thirty years until his death.
It’s a lonely thirty years.