shallowness: Five panels featuring pictures of different female characters based on my interests at the time. (Neville/Luna red and blue)
[personal profile] shallowness
Title: If I let you in
Fandom: The Musketeers
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairing: Constance/d’Artagnan
Summary: Constance knows her new housemate is going to be trouble.

Disclaimer: Not mine, don’t profit.
Author's Note: Written for the prompt The Musketeers, d'Artagnan/Constance, college au at the Let’s Make Out II ficathon
Indirect spoilers up to 1.07, but it’s an AU so I've freely adapted stuff to suit myself... 3,159 words. This hasn’t been betaed, feel free to offer concrit, although it’s partly been an exercise of venting my feelings about these two.


If I let you in: shallowness


Constance knows the moment he takes the key into his hand. D’Artagnan might as well be wearing a t-shirt with Trouble on it. Abruptly, she offers to give him the guided tour of the house.

“It’s not much,” she says, “the bathroom is through the kitchen, but you’ll get used to it.”

He nods when she tosses him a look over her shoulder. Suddenly, she’s finding hard to look at him straight as she shows the glories of every nook and cranny. 10 Queensbury Road has been student accommodation from the days before student debt, when places like this were called digs and putting a lock on some doors was the sign of a good landlord.

“I’ll let you get unpacked,” she says, knowing she’s been jumpy and bossy. She texts Bonacieux to let him know she’s found a new housemate and finds herself using three exclamation marks, which she normally never does.

Bonacieux doesn’t ask awkward questions when he comes back home. She tells him that d’Artagnan is a late transfer to Dumas University, so he couldn’t get into one of the halls. He’s a first year politics student, from the sticks. Bonacieux is only interested in whether d’Artagnan is good for the rent money.

Apparently he is, that’s all Bonacieux sees. Constance shouldn’t feel irritated that Bonacieux isn’t even curious about how she met d’Artagnan, who is in a totally different department on the other side of the campus to the school of business. It’s not like she wants to tell her boyfriend of five years what happened with a guy she barely knows.

There’s no way the story could go well. She was minding her own business in the students union and then this guy barrelled into her, spun her around and maybe it was because she’s dizzy, but when his lips crashed down on hers, she didn’t struggle at first.

When he let her go, she noticed that he looked like he’d just stumbled off a tour bus, before she gave him what for. After all, who does that?

D’Artagnan’s explanation, such as it was, was that he could have his back to one of the security guards. It sounded preposterous and not very flattering, but there was something about him that she believed.

“Look, let me get you a coffee or something as an apology,” he said.

“Fine, get me a tea.”

“All right—what’s your name?” He’d grinned at her then.

It was only when he brought her the tea with a sachet of sugar on top of the lid that she remembered to tell him that she had a boyfriend, so there was no use flashing a smile at her and trying anything else on.

It turned out he needed somewhere to stay, they needed someone to chip in on the rent. She made it clear that she didn’t go around kissing strange guys.

She isn’t as forthcoming with Bonacieux.

Life isn’t the same again. Constance becomes quickly aware of this. She was a blameless second year, studying business, mildly regretting not doing joint honours with French, but Bonacieux, who should know, as he’s studying for a Master’s in entrepreneurialism, talked her out of it. Even the French can speak English, he says and then he talks about China.

She tries to avoid d’Artangnan’s eyes when Bonacieux starts going on about China. She feels like that traitorous girlfriend in the stupid sausage roll ad, but Bonacieux’s views on China have always made her start thinking about to-do lists.

It’s not just having a third person in the house, although Constance is always aware of his presence. It’s not just his stuff, it’s him. He isn’t loud, but he isn’t quiet. He winds her up on purpose, but not Bonacieux.

D’Artagnan joins the Musketeers, which Constance always thought was more of an excuse for drinking than an actual society, but it turns out they’re into historical re-enactments. Porthos once admits they mainly do it for the sword-fighting.

There seems to be plenty of booze involved, and some sort of running feud with the Cardinals - the security guards employed by the university. Anyone who scores against the Cardinals is pretty popular on campus. Although Dumas students aren’t on the verge of revolution and their student union isn’t organised enough to hold a proper protest, not even a sit-in, nobody gets why the university needs the heavies in the distinctive burgundy hoodies. The campus is hardly Helmand province, and Constance would actually feel safer without them around.

Although she hangs out a little with the Musketeers, she never really finds out why the grudge started. All the guys, and they are all guys, get distracted by stories of their latest run-ins.

D’Artagnan comes home worse for the wear a couple of nights. Constance doesn’t ask herself why she stayed up for him to come home, just reaches for the first aid box and lets her tongue run away with her.

“You’re not listening, are you?” she says, handing him some frozen peas for a bruise on his forehead. “This wasn’t something Treville set up and it wasn’t training, but the next time Athos or those other two get into something with the Cardinals, you’ll be there. Even if next time you end up in A&E.”

He gives her a wry glance.

“Yes, but you wouldn’t want me any other way,” he says. “Life would be too boring.”

She tsks and makes a big drama of going to bed.

Bonacieux is fast asleep, but Constance can’t join him. Tossing and turning, her mind won’t switch off.

She thinks the Musketeers are a bunch of idiots and has told them as much, but watching d’Artagnan make friends so quickly and even getting pulled into their orbit a little has made her realise she was in a bit of a rut, stuck in the grind of lectures and assignments, dutifully turning up to hear Professor King babble on about synergies and branding. When did she and Bonacieux last go out? When did he pay her a compliment? Constance thinks of the full tub of chocolate fudge ice cream in the freezer. She’d wolfed down the remains of the tub the other week when she was on, and then the next day, some more magically appeared. Bonacieux has only ever bought her ice cream when she’s specifically told him to.

She hasn’t thanked d’Artagnan for the ice cream, but she’s thanked him for a dozen other favours, she’s helped him out a couple of times too. She’s not sure what’ll happen next.

The annoying thing is that he was right, life was boring without him. Now, there’s a sense of possibility in the air.

Maybe that’s why she ends up in one of the Musketeers re-enactments, dressed as a prostitute, threatening to skewer Porthos or anyone who takes a picture of her on their phone.

“This is absolutely your fault,” she hisses at d’Artagnan, letting him know she blames him for the weather and all. It was a cold afternoon and it’s getting colder. “I have no idea how you talked me into this.”

“I traded on your good nature and I promised to do all the dishes for the rest of the month, remember?” he says, trying and failing to sound contrite. He’s enjoying the night and maybe the view.

He catches her biting her lips to stop herself from laughing. She tells herself that he is not looking at her lips, although the rest of the night he hasn’t been looking lower down at her breasts either. Not much.

For the first time since she put the ridiculous thing on, her corset feels constricting.

The ‘other side’ in the re-enactment, a society from another university start the gunfire. Constance knows they’re blanks, but the noise makes her jump.

“Hey,” d’Artagnan says, grabbing at her arm, pulling her towards him instinctively.

“I know they’re blanks,” Constance says, gabbling a little. “You’ve all told me a million times.”

“That’s right,” he replies. There’s more shooting, this time from another direction, but she’s staying still.

“I should go,” d’Artagnan says regretfully, “but honestly, you’ll be safe here.”

Constance lifts her chin up.

“I know I’ll be safe, but I’ll get a better view further up.”

“Have it your own way,” he says, but instead of letting her go, he tugs her towards him. This time there’s enough of a pause for her to move away. She knows there is, but curiosity keeps her where she is.

She can taste the ale on his lips, and he is so warm and ridiculous and good at this that she opens up her mouth and invites him to let his tongue slip in. It’s instinct at work.

Thought comes later, after he’s gone, while the pre-arranged ‘fighting’ takes place and afterwards where there’s some more ale. Constance doesn’t drink much, doesn’t talk much.

She certainly doesn’t talk to d’Artagnan, whom she let kiss her. She can barely look at him, although he hands her his jacket at one point. She takes it, of course.

Aramis gives her and d’Artagnan a lift back to 10 Queensbury Road, Arcade Fire blaring out of the speakers. Aramis wants to know what she thinks of the music, and then is happy to talk over it as he replays everything the Musketeers did that night. He doesn’t seem to notice that she’s wearing d’Artagnan’s jacket or that d’Artagnan, seated in the back, is staring out of the window moodily. Constance’s attention wavers in and out. If anyone were to ask her what happened during the re-enactment, she would give a rubbish account. But the kiss? It’s playing on a loop, in slow motion, in her mind.

D’Artagnan keeps to his word about the dishes the next morning, but avoids Constance all day. She’d left his jacket hanging on the back of the kitchen door when she came home, but it disappeared as some point in the morning. Meanwhile Bonacieux is hunched over his laptop in the living room, obsessing over what’s going on with Bitcoin.

Constance decides that the clothes should be washed, so she bungs her dress in the machine. It’s a good reason to talk to d’Artagnan, who she knows is holed up in his room. She knocks the door loudly. The low thump of the dance music he was listening to gets switched off and there he is. Tight white t-shirt, jeans and a little stubble and her brain goes blank.

“Constance?” he asks, and she snaps back into herself.

“I was going to wash the dress, if you want me to do the same with whatever you were wearing last night, then you can hand them back to Treville or whoever’s responsible for the costumes.”

“It’s not Treville,” he says.

“Well, whoever,” she replies.

“Okay, I’ll get them,” he says. “Thanks.”

She leans against the door. D’Artagnan hasn’t done much with the place. There are textbooks, a laptop, and where there’d normally be posters, a map of Europe. It’s reasonably clean, which is more than can be said for the state of the room when the last guy stayed there. The bed is a single.

She doesn’t have to say anything else, they could carry on not talking about what happened last night but Constance isn’t always a chicken.

“So,” she said. “Did I tell you how old I was when I started dating Bonacieux?”

“Um.” D’Artagnan clears his throat. That sign of awkwardness pleases Constance. It isn’t just her. If it weren’t for the kissing, sometimes she could talk herself into believing it was just her. “You just said you’ve been together forever.”

“Yes,” she says, remembering the speech she gave d’Artagnan at the students union. “We started going out when I was fifteen.“

Fifteen sounds so young when she says it out loud. Bonacieux wasn’t the first guy she kissed, and he’s not the last guy she kissed, her conscience tells her. For so long, she thought he’d be the only one, which seems so naive now.

“He deserves—“

D’Artagnan makes some kind of move with his head, and Constance isn’t sure if it’s assent or frustration. This is the thing, she isn’t entirely sure with d’Artagnan. Oh, she’s fairly sure he’ll listen to her and even go along with her if he agrees with what she’s saying. He’ll apologise for letting one of Aramis’s friends sleep on the floor after he turns out to be a sleazebag with issues and mean it. He’ll drag her along to a pub with his friends and make her laugh and then walk her home when Porthos and Aramis start playing darts.

He doesn’t expect her to go along with everything he wants, expects her to have an opinion and wants her in on the fun. He’s trouble and the greater part of it is that he makes her think about being a different person to the dependable Constance she always thought she was. She can imagine herself being someone who could cheat on the guy she thought she was going to be with forever. She has imagined it, has imagined the kiss lasting longer, her hands exploring lower.

D’Artagnan is standing two feet away from her. It’s like she’s radar and she’s constantly in active mode when he’s around, always aware of him.

“You know what I mean,” Constance says, hiding behind irritation and bustling out of the room. When she reaches the landing, she wishes she could hear d’Artagnan say ‘But what do you deserve?’

She marches downstairs, but not so loudly that she can’t hear a book thrown against the wall.

The sound is better than a cheesy line.

Breaking up with Bonacieux isn’t that hard in and of itself, it’s the breaking up with who Constance thought she was that’s the problem.

Bonacieux says a lot, but he doesn’t even ask if there’s someone else. What could Constance say? There is and there isn’t. It’s the fact that there could be. It’s the fact that Bonacieux didn’t notice that that, even though Constance feels like she’s been living in a storm for months.

Yes, Bonacieux didn’t notice because he trusted her. He says that he was working for their future, and she remembers that future, how sure she was it’d come about, but there is no way she can imagine herself heading towards it now.

By the time d’Artagnan comes back home, Constance is sitting on the stairs, phone in hand, trying to work out where to go. Bonacieux is in the kitchen, drinking everything, and she’s a mess.

When he walks in through the door, Constance admits to herself that she wasn’t trying very hard to find a sofa to crash on. She was waiting for this.

“What’s wrong?” D’Artagnan is kneeling in front of her, hands on her shoulders and she starts crying again.

“I broke up with him,” she whispers, feeling like the lowest of the low, because she was going to get engaged to Bonacieux in a couple of years time or as soon as the economy picked up.

“Good,” d’Artagnan says, and it doesn’t seem to matter that her mascara’s run. He kisses her on the forehead. “Good.”

“I think I need to get out of here” Constance says.

D’Artagnan nods and pulls her to her feet. He finds her coat and helps her into it.

He takes her to stay at Aramis’s current girlfriend’s place. Adele has a sofa, a throw and some comfy cushions to offer and it’s nice to go somewhere where Constance doesn’t have to think or feel. She doesn’t even ask d’Artagnan where he’s going when he says goodbye, just waves him off.

“So, you and d’Artagnan,” Adele said. “We always wondered—“

“No, it’s not—“ Constance stops herself. “All I know is that it’s not Bonacieux and me any more. That’s enough to deal with right now.”

Adele holds her hands up in the ‘calm down’ gesture.

“Sorry,” Constance says. “I probably need a good night’s sleep.”

She gets it, but the morning is bleary. It’s a relief when d’Artagnan texts that he’s on his way, although as she nurses a cup of tea, Constance has no idea what to tell him. She’s been thinking about what she’s done and the future for two hours and she might be on course to get a first, but she’s feeling pretty clueless.

Like her, he’s wearing the same clothes as last night, which tells her something.

“You didn’t go back?”

“Nah. Stayed on Porthos’s floor. Wouldn’t give it a glowing review on TripAdvisor.”

She smiles and waves at the teapot and kettle. Watching d’Artagnan pour some tea into a mug, Constance lets herself think about what it would be like to run her fingers through his hair. She’s blushing slightly.

“You didn’t have to do that,” she says. “Stay away. I didn’t tell Bonacieux about—I broke up with him because of me, and that’s the truth.”

“Yes, but before that I told him that I was taking you to a friend’s. That’s what he’d associate me with, that I was taking your side.”

It’s a sort of chivalry, she thinks, following d’Artagnan with her eyes as he goes to the fridge to get some milk.

“He was probably too drunk to take it in,” she says tartly.

D’Artagnan comes to sit next to her by the dining table.

“So, what next?” he asks.

“Don’t know. I’ll have to talk to him eventually, and I need to get stuff. I’ve got lectures this afternoon. I just – can’t quite work myself up to go back,” she admits.

“I’ll go with you,” he says. “Will that help?”

It’s not a long walk, and she wants to stare at d’Artagnan, but doesn’t quite dare. So she starts thinking about what’s awaiting her, if Bonacieux will be in the bedroom or if he’ll make it difficult, how much she should pack.

They’re about to turn down Queensbury Road when d’Artagnan stops walking.

“What is it?” Constance asks, worry and confusion making her voice sharp.

“It just occurs to me that there’s something I haven’t made clear,” he says. She just stares at him, not sure how to read him.

“What do you mean?”

He nods.

Constance lets out an aggravated sigh because this isn’t the time for him to be enigmatic.

He leans in again and her heartbeat accelerates.

“I haven’t made it clear why I’m glad you dumped him. It’s because we won’t feel guilty about what we’re going to do next.”

“Which is?” she whispers, before the grin she can’t repress bursts out.

They both move the same time, lips meeting in a fervour that Constance hadn’t known she was capable of before d’Artagnan. It’s a long kiss, it’s been a long time coming and they’re both grinning at each other when it ends, but she needed it.

“Did I make myself clear?”

“Mmm, you know what? I think you did.”

Fin

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