29. Not A Dream After All

Enjolras wakes up as he normally does, with a sigh and a little stretch. When his hand encounters something in the bedclothes, he wakes fully with a jolt of adrenaline. "Mon Dieu!"

Grantaire has been awake for some time, and has had time to consider this state of affairs, and therefore is braced for something like this, though it still startles him. He lets his companion go at once and sits up a bit. "It's all right," he says, with the cautious soothing tones usually reserved for animal trainers and the staff of madhouses. "It's all right."

Enjolras buries his face in the pillow. "I thought you'd have left." The words are significantly muffled. "I forgot you were here. Or something." He turns his head to ask more clearly, "Why did you stay?"

"I don't know." Grantaire lapses into gruffness, his first line of defense. "You seemed to need looking after." He might say more, but refrains, which is doubtless a good thing.

"I am an idiot." He sits up and stretches more thoroughly, before looking down, turning bright red over a significant portion of his upper body, and grabbing a sheet. Few things have the power to silence him, but acute embarrassment seems to do the job nicely.

Grantaire mutters, "You're not the only one." He pushes a hand through his hair ruefully.

Enjolras looks around for a shirt, and eventually finds one that's not particularly dirty. He pulls it on. The blush begins to subside. He still feels quite awkward. He extends a hand as if to shake one of Grantaire's. "Thank you."

Grantaire sits up a bit more as he's getting himself in order, scrubbing a hand over his eyes; then blinks, looking up. He stares at Enjolras a long moment, and an odd expression flickers across his face. Then he takes the hand, deliberately, and kisses it.

Enjolras stares wide-eyed at his captured hand, but does not pull it back. "You don't have to..."

"Yes, I do." He glances up, set-faced. "I want you to understand, that's all."

Enjolras meets his gaze. "I don't understand. Tell me again." He puts a hand on Grantaire's shoulder to pull him slightly closer.

Grantaire does not protest this. He reaches out to smooth back Marcelin's hair again, steadily, though his voice is not. "That I never meant this to happen, but now that it has, I --" He breaks off, frowning at his own lack of words.

"It's all right. I'm glad you're here." When you're kissing, you don't have to come up with the right words.

There is a knock on the door. Enjolras pulls his hands away and curses before grabbing for his pants. "Just a moment!" he calls to the visitor.

Grantaire nearly falls over. "God." Recovering, he likewise conducts a hunt for his clothes, doubtless swearing a mental blue streak.

Combeferre asks, "Marcelin, are you quite all right?" as he opens the door. It's never been a problem before.

Enjolras is mortified, and that's before he sees Chantal. "Leave. Now." Slightly more quietly, "Please."

Grantaire, still shirtless, drops his head in his hands.

"Marcelin?" Chantal can't quite see anything, yet, with Combeferre in the doorway. "What's the matter?"

Combeferre backs up as quickly as he can. "I'm sorry!" He shuts the door as quickly as he can.

"What did I do to acquire such a caring friend?" Enjolras spends no time contemplating that, but dresses as quickly as he can.

Chantal stumbles back into the hallway, blinking. "I don't..."

Grantaire mutters, rattled, "God preserve me," and follows suit.

Combeferre holds the door shut. "It's a bad time." That ought to be enough, when added with his tight voice and nervous demeanor.

She stares at him, terribly anxious, but does refrain from asking.

Enjolras breaks a button off of his shirt. He's discovering words in his vocabulary that he didn't know he knew.

Grantaire rakes both hands through his hair, and looks up again in time to see the button go skittering away. "God. -- Just-- stay calm." He comes over to lay a steadying hand on Enjolras' arm, and hand him his jacket with the other.

"Calm. Right. Calm!" It's very lucky that he doesn't tear his jacket while putting it on. He looks himself over, and glances at Grantaire to make sure that he's dressed.

He is, mostly. "Calm. Yes. It's only Combeferre, after all." His tone does an admirable job of hiding his own discomfiture that it is, in fact, Combeferre. "It'll be fine."

Enjolras takes a deep breath, and opens the door. "Good morning, Etienne." That comes out confident, but is followed by a very quiet, "Chantal."

Chantal looks up worriedly. "Good morning...?" she ventures.

Combeferre makes himself smile, but he can't meet the eyes of either man in the room. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right, Marcelin." There's a tacit apology in that.

Grantaire stands by the desk, hands in his pockets, attempting to look like his ordinary, sardonic, slightly sullen self. He quirks a faint grin at Combeferre, who of course doesn't see it, though Chantal does, and blinks at him.

"I believe I've come to my senses." Don't laugh, please. He's not good at being subtle in the best of circumstances. He's not a good liar, either. "I wanted to apologize to you." Better not even try to explain Grantaire. That would be far too complex.

Grantaire, with a valiant effort, swallows the snicker that wells up at this statement. Come to his senses, indeed.

Combeferre either misses the double meaning or ignores it. He looks at Chantal, nervously, but still avoids Enjolras's eyes. "I was confused. And we should have talked instead of leaving. That was as much my fault as yours." Taking the blame for Chantal's escape? That's easy.

Chantal is just watching the three of them in bewilderment. The obvious explanation for all this tension has evidently not dawned on her. She comes forward a bit to slip her arm through Combeferre's, comfortingly. "It's all right, Marcelin."

"Thank you, Chantoinette." The pet name is soft, and meant as another apology. "At least you haven't had to put up with my temper, at home." Enjolras chuckles ruefully. "While I've been inflicting myself on Etienne the whole while."

Grantaire coughs suddenly, and then does it again as cover.

Combeferre looks up sharply at that, saying, "No, it's not like that at all," then falters. It is like that, and this whole thing is making him very uncomfortable.

Chantal tilts her head slightly at her brother. "Well, we didn't mean to make you cross." She glances briefly and blankly at Grantaire, then back to the others.

"It doesn't take much." He has nothing else to say, and he's just realized that the bed is a hideous mess. "Where is Mother staying?"

Grantaire, recovering, raises a brow at Combeferre, in a splendid impression of mingled innocence and dry amusement, as though to say 'what on earth are you worried about now?'. He's only here to copy Enjolras' notes for class. Really.

"With Aunt Josette." Chantal shrugs. "I think they were going to go shopping today."

"I thought I heard her say she wanted to see you again before she left, Marcelin." Combeferre frowns after delivering this warning. "Well." He doesn't know what to say, and he would really like to leave, and sit down for a while, and think, and possibly scream.

Enjolras is quite distressed at that. "Well. Thank you for the warning." To reinforce the feeling that the original conversation is over, he smiles again at Chantal. One must forgive him if it is slightly strained. "And thank you for forgiving me, ma soeur. Sometimes I fear I learned too much from our parents."

"How sweet," Grantaire murmurs with familiar mockery. If there was a table, he'd be kicking Enjolras under it.

Chantal smiles wryly. "It's all right. Really. You're not nearly as bad as maman. Trust me."

Combeferre tsk-tsks. He can tell, whether Chantal sees it or not, that some people in the room would be very grateful if he wasn't there. "Perhaps we should be going, Chantal," he suggests gently. "If your mother is coming to visit here, Marcelin has some tidying to do."

Enjolras nods in relief. "Yes, it's a bit of a mess." Offer no explanation, and you don't have to lie.

Chantal glances around the room. "I suppose so. We'll see you later, then?"

Later is a good word. Anything but Now is a good word. "Yes, of course. I'll see you before you go." Enjolras looks over her head at Combeferre, and it might reasonably be assumed he was teasing. "I'm sure you two have a lot of planning to do."

Chantal, predictably, blushes at this, ducking her head.

An amused snort issues from Grantaire's direction.

Combeferre makes himself laugh, though it is not that amusing. "This is true." With a little wave, he turns and opens the door. "Have a good day, Marcelin. François." Contrary to his normal patterns, he doesn't look at them as he says farewell.

Chantal waves a bit, and goes with Combeferre, still blushing and still vaguely bemused.

Enjolras closes the door behind them and leans against it with a sigh of relief. "That was." The words aren't there yet. "Horrible. Lucky. Something like that."

Grantaire slouches back against the desk. "It was, wasn't it? You were right. I should have left. Long ago." He sounds a little dazed.

"No. I didn't mean that at all." A pause. "Well, I suppose I did, and it might have been better, but --" He trails off again, then becomes irritated with himself. "I can't talk about this. I don't have the right words. I didn't want to hurt you. I wouldn't have thrown you out for the world." This is accompanied by half of a smile.

Grantaire looks up at him with a somewhat similar expression, and shakes his head slowly. "You can do what you like with me. You should know that."

Enjolras dissolves into laughter. The stress is definitely affecting his mind. When he can speak at all, he says, "Didn't you tell me that last night?"

Grantaire regards him with wryly lifted brows, almost patiently. "And before that," he says mildly.

Enjolras admits, "I wasn't listening then." For no good reason, he's shy again; not embarrassed, but almost timid. "What else did you say when I wasn't paying attention?"

Grantaire looks amused. "Oh, all sorts of things. Few of them coherent."

The laughter is definitely over. Enjolras is shaking slightly. He makes his way to the bed and sits on it. "Ah. Good." For another moment, he can look up and regard Grantaire calmly. Then, he puts his head in his hands. "What have I done?"

Grantaire remains leaning backward on the desk, slouched a bit, his hands braced to either side, and watches him somberly. "I don't know. What have you done?" It's perfectly steady.

Enjolras does not look up. "I didn't know I was that depraved." His words seem to be detached from whatever he's thinking. "I didn't know I was... whatever it is I am." A convulsive shudder interrupts him. "Maybe I'll be a hypochondriac tomorrow. Oh, I'm going to Hell."

Grantaire closes his eyes. Other than that, there is nothing to indicate that he's in any emotional pain. "You can always plead insanity," he says, too lightly. "'God, I plead not guilty to the charge of being a perversion of nature on the grounds that I was undergoing a crisis of faith at the time.' You'll get off with a decade in purgatory, mark my words."

That's too harsh; he can't ignore it, not by hiding his face, or even by sitting across the room. Enjolras has to stand and walk over to Grantaire in order to put a hand on his shoulder. "I was wrong. Forgive me. Or if I wasn't, then I am just as damned as you." His voice becomes stronger, though he does not know a polite word for the subject at hand. "If -- that -- is wrong, the morning is far too late to apologize for it."

Grantaire is ashamed of himself before the first word of this is spoken. He looks up sadly, and reaches out to return the shoulder-clasp. "It's always too bloody late." A small, half-cynical, half-rueful smile. "I don't believe in God and I don't believe in hell. I believe in you."

Enjolras lets out a shuddering breath. "Now I see why you are here, why I wanted you to stay. I can't judge you. I do not have the right." In a more pleading tone, "Don't ask me to tell you what is good."

Grantaire rests his cheek against the hand on his shoulder for a moment. "I hope you don't expect me to tell you either, that's all."

That elicits another laugh. "When did I ever expect you to know anything?"

Grantaire chuckles, and for once it carries actual humor. "Never," he admits.

"Then I shouldn't think you have anything to fear on that count."

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