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Fic - Deliver Us From Evil (3 of ?)

Title: Deliver Us From Evil (3 of ?)
Pairings: Athos/Porthos, Aramis/d'Artagnan, past Athos/Aramis
Rating: NC17 (overall)
Wordcount: 5,565
Summary: Ghost story AU set (vaguely) in the 1920's. When literature professor Athos de la Fère is invited to spend Christmas with an old friend and one of his students insists on tagging along, he's not expecting it to be overly eventful. But then a mysterious stranger arrives at the door in search of an old manuscript and all hell may be very literally about to break loose...
AN: Content warning for dubcon in this part (probably technically noncon at first, but who's counting)

--

"So. Plans for the day?" Aramis leaned back in his seat after breakfast, and regarded the others.

"I thought I would make a start cataloguing the contents of the manuscript," said Athos. "Then once the snow's gone down enough to get to the post office I can send a description to the - well, to the British Library," he said with a faintly apologetic glance at Porthos, who grinned at him. "Then they can advise us on likely value and provenance."

"Well I think I'll go and cut some greenery," Aramis announced. "Decorate the hall up a bit. It is Christmas in a couple of days, after all."

"I'll help you if you like," d'Artagnan offered immediately, and coloured up slightly when Aramis smiled at him.

"What about you Porthos?" Aramis asked. "Want to help?" d'Artagnan frowned jealously at this, but Porthos shook his head anyway.

"Sounds decidedly cold and wet to me," he declared. "Think I'll stop inside and help Athos. Or hinder, anyway," he amended and Athos gave a distracted smile, but he was mostly watching the way d'Artagnan was gazing at Aramis.

As they washed up the breakfast things, Athos found himself alone with d'Artagnan, who still had a dreamy smile on his face.

"Why have you kept him to yourself for so long?" d'Artagnan sighed eventually.

"Who?" Athos looked confused.

"Aramis."

"He seems to have made quite an impression on you," said Athos rather acidly.

"He's wonderful." d'Artagnan stopped mid-plate, dripping soap suds all over the floor. He glanced sideways at Athos, registering his expression and abruptly remembering the fact Athos had warned Aramis off. "Don't worry about me. I know what I'm doing," he said, meaning to reassure and only managing to leave Athos infinitely more worried than he had been a second ago.

With a building anger, Athos left d'Artagnan to the dishes and went in search of Aramis.

"I want a word with you," he said crossly, finding Aramis in the great hall estimating sizes for the decorations. Athos grabbed him by the arm and propelled him across the room away from the kitchen door, shoving him none too gently against the opposite wall.

"You promised," Athos hissed furiously. "You promised me you wouldn't touch him!"

Aramis sighed. "What's your problem?"

"He's barely more than a child - "

"Oh come off it Athos, you know damn well that at his age we were fucking each other senseless."

"That was different."

"How?"

"We were different. Too cynical for our own good." Athos looked troubled. "You think it's the sex I care about? I'm not such a prude as all that. But he's so innocent. Impressionable. He thinks he's in love with you for God's sake."

Aramis looked startled. "Don't be ridiculous!" he retorted. "Did he say that?" he added uncertainly after a second.

"He didn't have to, it's written all over his face."

"It was just a bit of fun," said Aramis uncomfortably.

"Well he's besotted with you." Athos stuck a furious finger in Aramis' face. "If you dare break his heart, or blacken his name, I'll - "

"You'll what?" Aramis asked calmly, and Athos lowered his hand, sagging defeatedly.

"Just - don't. Don't hurt him Aramis. For his sake, if not mine."

"You care about him, don't you?"

"Yes." Athos sighed. "Not like you mean. I just - I brought him here Aramis, I'm responsible for him."

They looked at each other for a moment, and Aramis gave him a tentative smile. "So, we're good?"

Athos nodded reluctantly, and Aramis gave him a hug. "I would never hurt him," he promised.

"You would never mean to," Athos corrected dryly. "You forget how long I've known you."

Aramis laughed, unabashed, and they walked away together.

After a second, unobserved by either of them, the nearby bathroom door creaked open and Porthos slipped out, looking thoughtful.

--

"Argh!"

Aramis, his arms full of fir and holly, looked back to where d'Artagnan had dropped half his load in the snow and was hopping about in apparent distress.

"Whatever's the matter?"

"The snow went over the top of my boot. It's all cold and wet!" d'Artagnan complained.

"Just a few more trips and we should have enough," Aramis grinned, as d'Artagnan brushed the snow off a garden seat and sat down, hot and bothered and scratched all over from the foliage.

"I need a rest. Do you think we could convince Athos to bring us out some tea?"

Aramis sat next to him, laughing. "I think you'd have more chance of convincing the tea to bring Athos."

They sat there in companionable silence for a while, and if d'Artagnan shifted closer to him for the warmth, Aramis didn't have the heart to push him away.

"Is there a lake?" d'Artagnan asked suddenly, apropos of nothing, and Aramis laughed.

"Have you been holding a conversation in your head? What are you talking about?"

D'Artagnan shrugged. "Blackmere Manor. Mere means lake, right? I just wondered if there actually was a lake, or if it was just fanciful naming."

"Oh, I see. Well there's some sort of pond effort over behind the shrubbery," said Aramis. "Not sure I'd dignify it with the term lake."

"Can we go and have a look?" asked d'Artagnan eagerly, hoping to avoid lugging heavy branches across deep snow for a bit longer.

Aramis smiled at him indulgently. "Yes, if you like. It's not much to look at though."

They trudged through the snow arm in arm, with the excuse that it gave them better balance over the uneven ground.

Soon they were under a copse of dark dripping trees, mostly rhododendrons that shut out the light. Roots squirmed beneath the snow and now they had to genuinely grip each other's arms for balance.

At the very edge of the lake the tangled roots dipped in and out like serpents through spreading ice, although the centre was clear. The water there was black and uninviting, and d’Artagnan shivered involuntarily.

As they made their way carefully around the perimeter, Aramis attempted to describe how nice it would be in high summer, but even to d'Artagnan's ears he didn't sound convinced.

Ducking under a swathe of wet fir, they came to a place where the snow was churned and brown.

"Looks like something fell in," d'Artagnan said in surprise. The trail led right to the water's edge. "Something big. A deer, do you think, poor thing?"

"I was thinking it looked more like something dragged itself out," said Aramis thoughtfully, and d'Artagnan gave him a look of horrified confusion. "I just meant - like you say, maybe a deer or something. But the way the water's splashed and frozen over the snow it looks like whatever it was, it was going the other way."

They followed the trail away from the lake, but it petered out once the cover of trees ended, hidden by fresh snowfalls.

"What do you say we go in for lunch?" Aramis asked, shivering slightly. The atmosphere under the dripping trees had been depressing, and he was cold inside and out. D’Artagnan agreed immediately with some relief, and they made their way back to the house.

--

For most of the morning Athos had been writing out in a neat hand a detailed description of each page of the manuscript. He had wire-framed spectacles hooked over his nose, a smudge of ink on his cheek, and his hair was sticking up slightly where he'd pushed a distracted hand into it.

Across the room Porthos sat in an arm chair close to the library fireplace, ostensibly reading a book but mostly watching Athos and thinking about what he'd overheard earlier that morning.

Athos, finishing a page, pushed up his glasses and rubbed his eyes.

"How's it going?" Porthos asked.

Athos looked over in surprise, as if he'd forgotten Porthos was there. "Almost done. Just one more page to go." He turned the leaf over and frowned. "That's odd."

Porthos came over and looked over his shoulder. "What is?"

"Well, I could have sworn that imp thing was on the last page." The page open on the table had the usual cramped Latin text and decorative border, but was empty of any illustration.

"I must have turned over two together - oh." Athos discovered that this was in fact the final page of the book. He flipped back in confusion, but the previous illustration was the tentacled seamonster. "How odd." He looked up at Porthos for confirmation he wasn't going mad, and was mildly relieved to find the man looking as confused as he felt.

"It was definitely at the back," Porthos ventured.

"I thought so. D'Artagnan made me close the book, so maybe it wasn't the last page after all, but - " Athos turned carefully through the whole manuscript, but the drawing of the imp wasn't to be found and he ended up back at the empty frame on the final leaf.

"Perhaps the page was loose," Athos suggested. "One of the others might have set it aside if it fell out."

"We can ask them," Porthos said, hearing the clatter of feet out in the hall as Aramis and d'Artagnan came back inside.

"Aramis. Did you put the imp drawing somewhere?" Athos asked as they walked in.

"What are you talking about?" Aramis asked in surprise.

"The imp from the book, the page is missing. I just wondered if you'd taken it out or something."

"No fear," Aramis said with conviction. "I'd lose no sleep if I never had to set eyes on the beastly thing again. Why, is it missing?"

"Seems to be," Athos frowned. "D'Artagnan, have you seen it?"

"No way," said d'Artagnan, shaking his head. "Take a page out of a rare book? You'd have my hide!"

"But you must have!" Porthos interjected. "If it wasn't us - "

"What are you implying?" d'Artagnan demanded hotly, swinging round to stare at him.

"Well, I didn't take it, and Athos didn't, and I don't see that Aramis would have, given that it belongs to him anyway - "

"I'd have thought if anyone was more likely to be hiding things it was you," d’Artagnan shot back. "You were the one who came here to steal it in the first place!"

They were glaring at each other, almost ready to come to blows, when Athos stepped between them.

"Gentlemen," he said, calmly reproving. "I'm sure there's a simple explanation. Perhaps it simply came loose and has blown under the sideboard or something."

"I didn't take it," d'Artagnan insisted pleadingly and Athos saw he had tears of frustration and anxiety in his eyes as he grabbed the front of Athos' jacket. "Athos, I would never - "

"It's alright," Athos told him soothingly. "I believe you. Hush, I believe you."

Staring at him until he was sure Athos was sincere, d'Artagnan gave a muffled sob of relief, and Athos pulled him into an awkward hug.

"Now stop that." Athos patted him on the back gently. "Nobody's accusing anyone of anything, do you hear? There must be a rational explanation."

"Come and help me with lunch," Aramis said quietly, drawing d'Artagnan away with an arm round his shoulders.

When they'd gone, Athos and Porthos made a cursory search underneath the various items of furniture in the room, but found nothing and hadn't particularly expected to. They ended up standing over the empty page once more.

"I swear I didn't take it," Porthos said quietly. Athos looked at him, then nodded slowly.

"Well I know I didn't. And you're right, Aramis would have no reason to."

"And d'Artagnan?"

"I would stake my reputation on d'Artagnan's honesty," Athos said quietly.

"So where did it go?"

They stared at the book, neither wanting to be the one to put into words what they were both thinking. That yesterday, the imp in all its hideous glory had been right there on that very page.

"I suppose - " Athos started, then broke off.

"What?"

"There are certain inks - what if it had been painted in such a way as to evaporate on contact with the air?" Athos ventured.

"Oh, I like that idea," said Porthos immediately. "I really like that idea."

"You don’t think it's too fanciful?"

"Not as fanciful as the alternative," said Porthos with a shudder.

Athos closed the book with a decisive slap entirely at odds with its fragile nature. "Come on. Let's join the others at lunch," he said. "I've had enough of this for one day."

--

They spent the afternoon decorating the hall with the foliage Aramis and d'Artagnan had collected, fir and holly and ivy and even some mistletoe. Aramis had found a box of red candles and ribbons and painted fircones that had been his uncle's and by the time they were finished everything looked very festive and everyone was in a much better humour.

After supper Aramis retreated to the large ground floor bathroom for a soak. He was in two minds about how to proceed with d'Artagnan. On one hand he liked him very much, and was eager to see how far the young man could be persuaded to go. On the other, he was conscious of Athos' warning, and had no wish to risk falling out with him.

He undressed and stepped into the deep ceramic bathtub with a hiss of pleasure as the hot water soothed his aching back. He'd spent the day hauling branches about and running up and down ladders, and was starting to feel it. It had also crossed his mind that it wouldn't hurt to be totally clean, if things with d'Artagnan were about to progress along rather more intimate lines.

It was quiet in the bathroom, being located beneath the stair to Athos and Porthos' rooms and at the opposite end of the hall from the kitchen and library. The others had retreated to the cosier parlour room upstairs, and Aramis was quite alone, the only noise the occasional drip of the tap echoing off the tiled walls.

He closed his eyes and sank into the water, head resting on the rim, and nose just above the steaming surface.

Aramis was drowsing, the warm water lulling him into a peaceful state of mind. Suddenly, half asleep, he felt something touch his leg and jerked awake, sloshing water over the side. To his surprise the room was empty. He'd wondered for a moment if d'Artagnan had sneaked in, until he remembered he'd locked the door.

He groped in the bath, coming up with his flannel. Aramis sighed, lying back again and laughing at himself for being so jumpy. It was d'Artagnan's fault he decided, all his daft talk of ghosts the night before.

Aramis closed his eyes again, sliding under the surface to submerge his shoulders. It was cold outside the water, and he was debating whether to run in more hot, or whether the others would complain if he used it all.

A soft touch against his calf, and he frowned, thinking that the flannel must have slipped off the edge of the bath again. It slithered round his ankle and Aramis lazily moved his leg, drawing up his knee in an attempt to avoid it. Somehow though the touch followed him and he opened his eyes in annoyance.

The first thing he saw was the flannel still draped wetly over the side of the bath.

And then he saw no more because whatever was wrapped around his ankle suddenly gave a vicious heave and he slid right below the surface of the water.

Coughing and spluttering, Aramis fought his way up, trying to gain a purchase on the slippery ceramic curve of the bathtub. He was kicking and struggling, but something was winding itself tighter and tighter around his legs, and he barely had time to snatch a breath before he went down for a second time.

His vision was starting to blur and his chest was burning. He had no idea what was happening, only knew that he was being attacked, that something - someone? - was trying to drown him. His arms were pinned, and as he broke the surface again he thought he heard a distant banging. He tried to scream, but only half a noise came out and suddenly his mouth was full of water.

"Aramis!" D'Artagnan burst through the door and found Aramis thrashing beneath the surface. He hauled his head above water and held him there while Aramis choked and clung to him.

Athos and Porthos arrived moments later, confused and alarmed, and helped Aramis out of the bath, wrapping him in towels and his dressing gown and calming him down.

--

"Whatever happened?" Athos asked, once Aramis was curled in a chair in the parlour with a large brandy, d'Artagnan sitting at his feet with a concerned hand on his knee.

"Something tried to kill me," Aramis declared, and they all stared at him in astonishment. He coloured. "I'm not imagining it. Something pulled me under!"

"Like what?" Athos pressed. "There was nothing there."

Aramis stared at him in consternation. "Maybe it went down the drain?"

"The plug was still in," Porthos said.

"Well - but - " Aramis looked at them in confusion and alarm. "I'm not crazy!"

"Nobody's saying you are," d’Artagnan said soothingly.

Aramis placed a grateful hand over his. "If you hadn't come in - how did you know?"

D'Artagnan blushed. "I was coming to see if you - if you needed anything." He avoided Athos' eyes. "And it sounded like you were - I don’t know, having a fit or something. In trouble, anyway. I knocked, and then I heard you scream, and - " he flushed deeper red. "I broke the lock in."

"We heard the crash," Athos added. "And came to see what the devil was going on."

Aramis shuddered. "I don't know what to say. All I know is what I felt. Something had hold of me in there. Something that wanted to kill me." He extended his leg from the folds of the towel, and examined a red mark on his calf. "Look, you want proof? It did that."

"What's that supposed to be?" Porthos asked, squinting.

"A sucker or something," Aramis said firmly. "From the thing that attacked me."

"Or - you fell asleep in the bath, had a nightmare, nearly drowned yourself and hit your leg on the tap," Athos suggested prosaically.

Aramis glared at him. "You're saying you don't believe me?"

"I'm saying it's more likely than you being attacked by an invisible squid," said Athos calmly. "That then vanished without a trace."

Aramis subsided huffily, mollified only by d'Artagnan's attentive looks and touches and frequent refilling of his glass.

Still shaken, Aramis turned in early and d'Artagnan promptly yawned and declared he was going too, walking out boldly under Athos' disapproving but silent glare.

--

Not long after Aramis' door had closed behind him there came a timid knock, and he wasn't at all surprised to find d'Artagnan standing there.

"Come in."

D'Artagnan, clad only in his nightshirt, immediately sat on the bed and looked expectantly up at him.

Aramis sat down next to him more slowly and sighed.

"What is it?" d'Artagnan asked softly.

"Athos."

"What about him?" d’Artagnan demanded, rather more irritably.

"He knows. About us."

"You told him?"

"No. I thought you had." Aramis laughed. "Too sharp for his own good."

"It's none of his business."

"He's protective that's all. He thinks I'm going to break your heart."

"Are you?" d'Artagnan smiled.

Aramis hesitated for a beat too long and d'Artagnan's smile faltered. "Athos worries too much."

"He knows me better than you do."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Aramis took his hand. "I'm not - the world's best at monogamy," he admitted.

D'Artagnan stared at him in some confusion. "Is there someone else then?"

"No."

"But - you're saying there might be," d'Artagnan hazarded. "At some point?"

Aramis nodded regretfully.

"Well. That's honest, at least," said d’Artagnan, feeling rather breathlessly scandalised.

"I would never hurt you intentionally," Aramis said. "But Athos is right. My track record - isn't great. I'll understand, if you would prefer not to pursue this."

D’Artagnan considered for a moment, then made up his mind.

"I'm not like Athos," he said, cupping Aramis' cheek in his hand. "I would rather have my heart broken a thousand times, than never risk it at all." And he leaned forward and kissed Aramis deliberately on the mouth.

--

Left alone, Athos and Porthos sat for a while longer in companionable silence, enjoying the warmth of the dying fire and savouring the last of their drinks. Athos was preoccupied though, casting occasional glances in the direction of Aramis and d’Artagnan’s rooms. The walls of the old house were far too thick for any sounds to emanate through, but his mind was clearly elsewhere.

Porthos watched him discreetly, wondering what he was thinking. It had been blatant, the way the others had gone off together, although Porthos was faintly amused to think that if he hadn't overheard what he had earlier, he'd have thought nothing of it.

Now though, he knew what they were probably doing, knew what Athos was probably picturing. Thought about Athos and Aramis together, wondered if Athos had ever had d'Artagnan. He was getting hard thinking about it, and covered his lap guiltily with a book.

When they finally left the warmth of the parlour to go to bed, and hurried shivering across the un-homely expanse of the hall, Porthos was too preoccupied to notice whether there were any untoward presences to be felt on the staircase tonight.

At the door to Athos' room they both paused, and Athos inclined his head. "Are you coming in?" he invited without prompting, and Porthos restrained an unseemly grin.

"If you don't mind," he murmured, ducking his head so Athos wouldn’t notice his expression. He was wondering now if Athos had wanted him to make a move before this.

Two nights they'd lain next to each other, had Athos been lying awake, thinking about him, wanting him? Carried away with his own fantasies, Porthos managed to conveniently forget that on both occasions it had been him who'd asked to sleep with Athos.

As they got ready for bed, Porthos kept looking over at Athos for any hint of encouragement, but Athos seemed wrapped up in his own thoughts as usual.

"I've got a confession to make," Porthos said eventually, as they were about to get into bed.

"Another one?" said Athos dryly, and Porthos blinked, before realising what he meant and clearing his throat awkwardly.

"Well. Yes. Not quite on the same scale though. I, er. I overheard something earlier. Something I probably shouldn’t have."

"Then I suggest you don't repeat it," said Athos, assuming he'd heard some whispered declaration between Aramis and d'Artagnan and not interested in encouraging gossip.

"I was in the bathroom you see," Porthos continued. "And there were voices outside, so I waited a second to come out. I didn’t want to intrude." He paused, but either Athos was being deliberately obtuse, or hadn’t realised where he'd been standing at the time.

"It was you. And Aramis?"

Athos finally looked up at him in shock, as the implications of what Porthos was saying sank in. His expression, rather than adopting any of the knowing and encouraging looks Porthos had hoped for by hinting he knew the inclinations of the other three men, became hard.

"I'm sure I don't know what you thought you heard, but - "

"It was quite clear," Porthos interrupted.

Athos' face closed down even further. "Then I'm not sure what you expect of me. Is this a question of blackmail?"

Porthos gaped at him in utter shock. "No!" he blurted. "God, Athos, no, that's not - I would never - no, please, believe me when I say your secret is safe with me."

Athos relaxed a fraction, but remained coldly aloof. "Their secret, not mine," he demurred. "I have no part in this, other than that of unwitting catalyst. Their decisions are their own."

"And what of you and Aramis?" Porthos coaxed, still hoping to get Athos onto an altogether friendlier footing.

Athos looked doubly taken aback, realising for the first time just how much Porthos had overheard and put together.

"The folly of youth," he muttered. "And something you can hardly expect to hold against me now."

"No?" Porthos came closer. "What would you like me to hold against you?" he asked wickedly, and was rewarded by the sight of a dark blush rising in Athos' cheeks.

"You can't imagine that I would - " Athos faltered, taking a step backwards and turning quickly away.

"You'd be surprised what I can imagine," said Porthos in a low voice. He stepped up behind Athos and slipped an arm around his waist, pulling him back against him. Porthos was hard, and let Athos feel his arousal, pressed snugly against the curve of his buttocks.

"Take your hands off me," said Athos hoarsely, but he made no move to pull away and instead Porthos let his hand trail down until he could feel the swell of Athos' cock beneath the cotton nightshirt. He stroked him, and was encouraged by the fact Athos reacted immediately, stiffening and thickening beneath his fingers.

Athos was as tense as a whip, and at the touch of Porthos' hand in such an intimate place, had drawn in a sharp breath.

"Let go of me," Athos said, his voice low and shaking. "Please."

"Walk away then," Porthos rumbled in his ear. Athos immediately moved forward, and Porthos quickly wrapped his other arm around him, tight against Athos' stomach.

Athos stopped moving, standing quiescent in Porthos' hold. Porthos grinned, taking his immediate surrender as a sign of his willingness. Athos was fully hard under his hand, and Porthos stroked him through the folds of linen.

"No," Athos breathed, although he was pressing back against Porthos' chest rather than pulling away. "Please don't do this. Please."

"You don't mean that," Porthos whispered with a smile, moving his hand all the quicker. Before much longer Athos gave a stifled cry that was almost a sob, and Porthos felt a spreading wetness under his hand.

Porthos finally let him go and Athos stumbled forward, leaning over the dressing table, gasping for breath, his shoulders shaking.

It took several seconds for Porthos to realise he was crying.

"Athos?" he called, uncertainly, the smile of satisfaction fading from his face. "Athos, what's wrong?"

Athos made no answer, merely tried to stifle the helpless, breathy sobs that were hiccupping out of him. Porthos closed the gap between them and pulled Athos round into his arms.

"Athos! No - no, don’t, please. Don’t cry. I'm sorry. I never meant - " Porthos tried to wipe his tears away, patting at him almost frantically, trying to understand where it had all gone wrong. Athos was shaking, bewildered, as if he didn’t know what to do with himself, and Porthos felt a wash of relief as Athos finally collapsed into his embrace and let Porthos hold him tightly.

"I'm sorry," Porthos repeated, over and over, pecking kisses into Athos' hair and holding him close.

Finally Athos pulled himself together enough to stand up straight, and Porthos let him pull away slightly.

"I'm sorry," Porthos whispered again, contrite and horrified at Athos' shattered reaction. "I honestly thought you wanted it."

Athos looked at him, shaken and bleak. "I did," he mouthed.

"What?" Porthos frowned, now utterly lost.

"I did. Want it. Every sordid, shameful second," Athos confessed under his breath, although he looked far from happy about it.

"Then why the tears?" Porthos demanded, although he kept his voice low, and kept hold of Athos' hands.

Athos looked away. "Because I'm so ashamed," he whispered.

"Athos." Porthos wrapped his arms around him again, although this time it was comforting rather than restraining. "Don't be," he murmured, pressing his lips to Athos' mouth warmly. "You don't need to be ashamed."

"How can you say that?" Athos choked, looking stricken and disbelieving.

"How can you not?" Porthos kissed him again, and was overjoyed to feel Athos return the pressure of his lips, just slightly. "How can you deny yourself?"

"It's wrong," Athos protested, but when Porthos kissed him a third time he let Porthos have his way, his tongue slipping into Athos' mouth, hot and insistent. Athos leaned into his arms without really meaning to, and Porthos held him tightly.

"Do you want this?" Porthos whispered. "Do you want me? I swear no-one else need ever know."

"I - " Athos was clearly wavering, and Porthos smiled at him, gently this time.

"I want you," Porthos continued. "I wanted you from the first moment I set eyes on you, but I didn’t think until today that I might have a chance."

"When did the world become so - " Athos groped for the word. "Wicked?"

"Wicked?" Porthos laughed. "If it's wicked to feel like this, then so be it. Let me sin with you Athos. Let's sin so hard we find heaven."

At that Athos gave a quiet laugh, and Porthos beamed at him, triumphant. He lifted the hem of Athos' nightshirt and pulled it off over his head, and Athos didn’t protest. Porthos used it to clean him of the streaks of semen from his earlier climax, and pushed him gently down on the bed.

Athos sat there, naked, and watched Porthos pull off his own nightshirt. His body gleamed in the candlelight, muscled and strong, and Athos gave an involuntary noise of suppressed desire.

Porthos crawled over his body, drawing the tip of his erection up Athos' thigh and hip, rubbing it against Athos' own cock, already hard again.

"Do you want this?" Porthos repeated, covering Athos' body with his own, and feeling Athos' arms close around him.

Athos buried his face in Porthos' neck and surrendered, not to Porthos, but to his own long-repressed desires.

"Yes," he breathed. "Yes, God, yes. Take me. Please. I'm yours."

In the shifting candlelight Porthos fucked him, his lithe, powerful frame driving into Athos' willing body, thrusting between his legs with a forceful need. Athos, spread face down in the pillows, let Porthos take everything he wanted, rocking with his strokes, aching from the hardness driving inside him, until he felt Porthos shudder violently in orgasm, a flood of hot seed spurting deep in his body. It was enough to make Athos come for a second time that night, his own shameful release soaking into the sheet below.

He lay there, spent and trembling with shame and reaction, expecting Porthos to get up and leave, having got what he wanted. To his surprise, Porthos turned him carefully and settled Athos in his arms, kissing him tenderly.

"Are you alright?"

Athos blinked owlishly at him, and Porthos laughed. "Well at least you're not crying this time." Athos managed a smile, and Porthos smiled back at him. "That's better!"

They lay there in the warm nest of blankets, and gradually Athos came back to himself, gathering the shreds of his dignity and self-possession around him, and finding, to his surprise, that he in no way wanted to move from Porthos' arms.

He looked up at him, and Porthos kissed him firmly. "No."

"No what?" Athos frowned at him.

"No you can’t run away."

"I wasn’t going to," Athos told him, and it was Porthos' turn to look surprised. "Besides, this is my bed."

"True enough." Porthos hugged him close. "Does this mean I'm not being evicted?"

"I suppose you can stay," Athos murmured sleepily. "If you promise to behave."

Porthos laughed delightedly. "Are you really alright?" he asked quietly, after a moment.

Athos nodded against his chest, and Porthos kissed his hair.

"Can I ask an impertinent question?" Porthos said after a while. Athos gave a huff of laughter.

"Is it any use my saying no?"

Porthos conceded the point with a grin. "You and Aramis. What's the deal with that? I don’t want to tread on any toes."

Athos shifted a little. "That was over a long time ago. We were young. It was - experimental, more than romantic. We were really only ever friends."

"Has there been no-one since?"

Athos fidgeted. "Once."

"What happened to him?"

Athos sighed. "When I say once, I mean that literally." Porthos looked enquiring and Athos frowned uncomfortably. "He was a visiting lecturer. Name of Rochefort. He seemed - interested. It had been a long time, and I - let him have his way with me." Athos looked away. "I rather wish I hadn't," he said softly.

"He hurt you?" Porthos demanded indignantly.

"He - wasn't kind," Athos admitted.

"I hope you gave him what for?"

Athos shook his head tightly. "I thought I deserved it," he whispered. "For wanting something so wrong."

"Athos," Porthos sighed, in a pained whisper.

Athos looked up at him, and Porthos cupped his face, kissing him softly. "I'm sorry," said Porthos sincerely.

"What for?" Athos asked, surprised.

"For any moment where I have not been kind," Porthos told him solemnly. "If I'd known - I would have been gentler," he added rather sadly.

Athos kissed him then, sudden and unexpected and fierce.

"I don't need gentle," he breathed. Porthos wrapped his arms about Athos' chest and they fell back into the pillows, kissing desperately hard.

-(tbc)-
Tags: fic, the musketeers
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