Athos endures and focuses his energy and his wits on doing constructive things for his country and his friends. He is a natural leader who doesn’t place himself above everyone else. He is so aware of everybody’s needs but his own and he sees that his friends need him to lead, and to do that he needs to be in control so he puts on a mask of control to hide the doubts and regrets. But the others have enough faith for all of them and they believe in his steadiness and they keep looking at him to lead, and it actually makes him steadier. He’s always aware of them and of their moods and he holds them back from rushing into things a lot. Keeping them alive and grounded actually keeps him grounded. It works. Without him they wouldn’t get a lot done.
His friends see the strength in him that he can’t see himself. Athos is so brave. He gets himself out of bed and on his feet every single morning. He puts himself back together bit by bit, like he put his life back together bit by bit after it collapsed. He built a new home for himself on the foundations of his strength and bravery that couldn’t be broken no matter what he believes. And it’s like his uniform literally holds him together, like the structure of the musketeers and his role as leaders seem to hold him together. He still sees the good in the world. He has his brothers to remind him of it. They try to get as many smiles from him as they can and they’re still teaching him to smile at other things as well. And they’re absolutely delighted by the dry humour that comes so naturally to him. He’s only getting better, Athos is on the road towards hope. And he does his best to be the man his brothers already believe him to be.
His selfless love for them is a great driving force for him. He is a man of little words but his actions speak loud and clear, even when they’re small, even when they go unnoticed. He operates from the shadows, never seeking rewards or gratitude. He wouldn’t even know what to do with that. He doesn’t want anything in return, he already gets so much. He loves them with a quiet intensity and to him it’s only natural that he should look out for them.
He picked up on Aramis’s despair and helped him in the only way he could think of, by getting out of his way. He trusted him with Marsac and beat the Duke’s ass. He went to his old home when Porthos needed help, without any of them knowing exactly what it cost him. He came up with a plan to get Porthos his justice. He went into the Court of Miracles to reassure Porthos that his family hadn’t abandoned him, knowing how important they are to him. He stuck up for d'Artagnan with the captain, without anyone knowing he was doing that, because he knew how much becoming a musketeer meant to him. Sometimes when they’re on a mission, after a particularly long and hard day, he takes first watch and doesn’t wake the next watch up, because he wants to let them sleep. Aramis is angry when he does that, but he keeps doing it. Sometimes he even tries to stay awake when they’re all safe again and sleeping in the same room together, to watch over them and reassure himself that they’re all there. Sometimes he hides the fact that he’s hurt until everyone else has been treated. Aramis is furious when he does that, but he keeps doing it. He listens to the laments of a heartbroken Aramis, without complaining, only interrupting to correct his Latin sometimes. He leaves books in Porthos’s room, on a subject that he’s interested in, without letting him know that they came from him. He stays sober on the anniversary of d'Artagnan’s father, so he can look out for him. Even after all that’s happened, he finds that he’s alive. And his heart beats for them.