30. Consequences

Jeanne sits at a table with Feuilly. Her youngest, Robert, is seated on the table and sharing his mother's oatmeal.

Feuilly watches Robert attempt to take possession of the spoon, his eyes amused. "It's not that bad."

"I imagine he's tired of mush." She sighs, but smiles slightly. "Get used to it, my lad. Hot mush, cold mush. It's cheap."

Feuilly remarks absently, "Some things never change."

The back door opens. Enjolras, cleaned up and tidy in appearance, but a little nervous, comes in.

Jeanne looks up. She's not glad to see him, but mutters, "Bonjour, m'sieur Enjolras," all the same. Grantaire follows him, carefully casual. The charming group who's there ahead of them gives him sharp pause,

but he recovers quickly.

Feuilly glances up, mildly surprised to see them in company, but unfazed. "Enjolras. Grantaire. Morning."

Much better to see him. "François. Come. Sit. Have breakfast." Being a mother, Jeanne has enough hands to push out a chair while taking the spoon away from Robert.

"Bonjour, Madame, Paul." Enjolras's voice is quieter than normal, and he seems slightly chagrined, though unsurprised, that he wasn't invited to sit. Without comment or a grimace, he takes a chair at a nearby table.

"'lo, Jeannette," Grantaire says with a decent approximation of cheer, and comes over to ruffle her hair and then Robert's. "And hey, here's the boy, look at him. 'lo, Feuilly." He glances uncertainly in Enjolras' direction.

Jeanne chuckles, batting away her brother's hand. "Stop that." She addresses Robert. "Your uncle wants to see you eat a good breakfast, so stop making that face at me and swallow." Accordingly, she offers the child another spoonful of mush.

Again with the given name, and now he's deferring to a girl. Feuilly blinks once at Enjolras, but doesn't of course comment. The look he gives Jeanne is vaguely quizzical.

Jeanne glances at Feuilly, catching his eye, and shrugs slightly before becoming distracted. "Swallow, I said, not spit it out onto your shirt!"

Grantaire chuckles faintly, and sits, after a slightly prolonged pause. "Mind your mother, enfant. It's easier in the long run."

Enjolras goes into the front room to order himself breakfast, since there's little service back here in the morning.

Robert complains nonverbally, but does swallow the next spoonful, under protest.

Jeanne wipes Robert's face with a napkin, and pokes him on the nose. "That's it, listen to him. He knows all about minding mothers."

Feuilly almost, almost smiles as he watches.

Grantaire's eyes stray after Enjolras for a minute, before he turns his attention back to the table.

Jeanne notices her brother's distraction, but after all his talk about that blond boy, it's not remarkable. "Don't you want breakfast, François?" she asks offhandedly.

"I don't think so, thanks." He slouches a bit in his seat, trying for casual, again. A flicker of a grin. "Didn't mean to interrupt you two."

Feuilly quirks an amused brow. "At what, commiserating?"

"Three." The correction is dry. Jeanne eats a bit of her own mush before Robert complains, and she goes back to feeding him. "You're not interrupting if you eat something."

Grantaire nudges her ankle with a booted toe, chuckling. "Not fair, sister."

Jeanne nudges back, harder. "Never said I was. Get some breakfast. It'll make you feel better."

"Who says I need to feel better?" counters the R.

"I do." She frowns at him. "Breakfast." It's the same sort of tone she would use on a recalcitrant child.

Feuilly just looks on for a minute, eyes dancing, and then turns his attention to Robert while the siblings have it out. His baby-amusing techniques, such as they are, are rendered oddly effective by his deadpan delivery.

"No, ma'am. I had breakfast." Really he did. Thinking briefly about doing so counts.

Jeanne shakes her head. "I don't believe you, and I won't, until you stop ogling my food."

"Pfffffft." In fact, if he's eyeing anything, it's the door. "Mind your business."

Enjolras eventually comes back in, still looking chastened. He has a bowl of the same sort of mush that is all over Robert's face. With a brief look and half of a feint towards the occupied table, he pauses in the middle of the floor, not sure where to sit.

"You're family, you're my business." Jeanne eats another spoonful of the mush, grimacing. "Not that I blame you for not wanting to eat this stuff."

Feuilly lifts a hand to Enjolras by way of hello again, and glances at Jeanne, as though debating how annoyed she'll be if he offers the man a chair.

Grantaire relaxes visibly as Enjolras returns, and takes a minute to react to his sister. "There, you see. I have reason on my side. Someday you'll have to let me take you somewhere decent."

Jeanne turns to see why Feuilly is waving, and kicks out a chair across the table from her. "Don't just stand there, m'sieur. Sit." She winks at Grantaire. "My brother bathed especially for the wedding, so he's still clean."

There is no obvious explanation for Grantaire's sudden color at this remark.

Nor for Enjolras's. He only hesitates a breath longer, then comes over to the table. Why he's looking at the floor is anyone's guess. "Thank you."

Feuilly looks quizzical again, but edges over slightly to make space for him.

Enjolras takes a seat. One might well wonder why he's found Robert so interesting, all of a sudden.

Jeanne shoots Grantaire a curious look, and leans over to him to ask quietly, "Is he always this odd, or am I just lucky?"

Robert waves a sticky fist at this new gentleman, in an amiable sort of way.

Grantaire jumps slightly, and blinks at her as though she'd suddenly lapsed into Sanskrit.

Jeanne gives him a look. He's not doing anything to reassure her that he is, in fact, all right. Sweetly, she asks, "François, are you sure you don't want breakfast?"

He blinks again, slowly. "Perfectly."

"You don't know what you're missing," Feuilly remarks, and to Robert: "Right?"

Enjolras is oversensitive today. This familial whispering sets his hands shaking, though he has no idea what they're saying. For the moment, he gives up on eating and puts them in his lap. For no good reason, he looks at them intently. Somewhere in his posture and manner is something that reminds one of his sister.

Robert gurgles a little in answer, and waves a hand at his mother to remind her that he's still here, and still hungry, besides.

Jeanne rolls her eyes. "Of course. Oui, M'sieur Robert, I am your humble servant." She spoons another lump into the boy's mouth, then closes one eye and studies Grantaire from several angles. "You're not ill, are you?"

Grantaire rolls his eyes slightly, and sits back again, folding his arms. He darts a 'calm-down' glance at Enjolras while his sister is distracted; then: "No. Confound it. Quit worrying." That's his job.

Enjolras catches the look and blushes, which does nothing to decrease his resemblance to Chantal in a surfeit of nervousness. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, then eats another spoonful of breakfast. The spoon doesn't tremble quite as much as it might have without the warning, but it certainly isn't steady.

Jeanne believes, perhaps, that he isn't ill, but she knows that something is wrong. "Did you sleep poorly?"

Feuilly is looking a bit bemused, and finds it best to pay attention to the child, since the adults are all being odd.

Grantaire says, exasperated, "I'm fine."

Enjolras jumps, and stops eating again without looking at anyone. He's very sociable this morning.

It is Feuilly's turn to lean over and inquire, sotto voce, "Everything all right?"

Grantaire clearly considers the discussion closed. He locates a napkin and sets about trying to mop up his nephew.

Enjolras stares at his mush. The question does not register for a moment, then, "Oh yes. Fine. Everything's fine. How about you?" It's too loud, and the man doth protest too much.

Feuilly gives him a keen look, but unlike Jeanne he doesn't pursue it. He shrugs slightly, and leans back again.

Jeanne's maternal instincts are being prodded into action. "I think you need to relax, m'sieur. If you want to talk, go ahead. I'll listen, at least."

Grantaire barely bites back an interruption. It would look worse for him to intervene at this point than for Enjolras to sputter as he doubtless will.

"No!" Overreaction, compensated for by the overly quiet rest of the sentence. "I'm all right. Really."

Feuilly's eyebrows shoot up. He glances at Jeanne.

Jeanne believes that less than her brother, who was, at least, more subtle about being upset. "Do you always shake like that when you're 'fine,' m'sieur?"

Enjolras sticks his hands in his lap, and lies, "I'm not shaking." He looks up and tries to summon some of his normal detached dignity (or is that menacing majesty?). "It's none of your business, Madame."

"Leave the man alone, Jeanne. He's had a rough night." The R has said this, mildly, before he even thinks of the implications, but he manages not to blush after they occur to him, and more importantly, not to look at Enjolras.

So much for dignity. It doesn't matter much if one is trembling. Flaming red faces and ducked heads are more obvious.

Feuilly blinks. And sits back a little, not quite grinning. He thinks he gets it now.

Jeanne looks from Enjolras to her brother in consternation, wondering what on earth Grantaire could have said to provoke such an odd reaction. "Are you quite well, m'sieur?"

That sounds suspiciously like an excuse to Enjolras, who's on the verge of panicking. "Yes, actually." He stands up, hoping that the rudeness of his departure will be covered by the possibility of his sudden illness, and, muttering, "Pardon me," leaves.

Grantaire wipes Robert's face so industriously that the latter starts to whine. He glances up sharply as Enjolras departs, but doesn't move to go after him; that would spell complete disaster, now wouldn't it?

Feuilly starts to actually say something then; then sighs, and subsides, shaking his head. He's not best pleased with Grantaire, however, judging by the look he darts him.

Jeanne is not satisfied with the explanation that the boy is ill; he didn't seem sick to her, just out of sorts. She dismisses the problem from her mind when Robert complains, and pushes Grantaire's hands away from him. "Stop, he's not done eating, he'll just get dirty again." She misses Feuilly's look because she's paying attention to her child, then thinking of Enjolras again, she muses, "He's not exactly a ladies' man, is he?"

Grantaire drops the napkin; then chokes.

"Not... usually," Feuilly concedes cautiously, then raises a brow at Grantaire.

Jeanne looks over in alarm. "Not another emergency. Can you breathe, François?"

Sure he can, if he ever stops sputtering. He does, after a moment. "Nothing. I'm fine." He offers no explanation, because the only ones he can think of sound incredibly lame.

The door opens again. Enjolras is back, looking slightly pale. He seems to have splashed water on his face, and looks a good deal calmer than he did a few minutes ago.

Feuilly leans back in his chair. This morning is plainly going to be strange no matter what he does, so he may as well get comfortable.

"Feeling better, Marcelin?" Jeanne can't help but be familiar with a poor sick child, even if he is in his twenties.

Grantaire recovers his breath, and after a fleeting look at Enjolras busies himself with rebuttoning his cuff.

Enjolras does not show any surprise at Jeanne's question or her informality. "Yes, I'm all right now." He sits down again and picks up his cooling breakfast.

Feuilly shakes his head slightly at Enjolras, and contents himself with a mild, "Welcome back."

Jeanne smiles slightly, but looks at Feuilly with a bit of worry. "I'm glad," she says absently. Does anyone know what's going on, and would they please tell her?

Grantaire, finishing with his cuff, is thereupon at a loss as to what to occupy himself with next. He glances up at each of them in turn, and in the end settles for watching the baby.

Enjolras eats quietly. He's calm, yes, but still quiet. If he talks, he might say something untoward.

Feuilly casts Jeanne a reassuring half-smile. And then there is silence, because he's not the one to break it.

Jeanne has finished her mush, with significant help from Robert. "Well, I suppose I'd best be going. I have to relieve the one watching the kids so she can go to Mass." She stands, brushing off her skirt almost reflexively, and collects up Robert's odds and ends.

"Oh." Grantaire looks surprised, and then apologetic. "I'll ...see you later, then." It's very subdued.

Feuilly casts another glance between the other two, and half-stands. "Walk with you?"

Jeanne picks up the baby next, settling him on her hip. "That would be pleasant." She smiles at Feuilly, then bends to drop a kiss on Grantaire's forehead. "Au revoir, m'sieur Enjolras. Take care of yourself."

"And you, madame." He nods in farewell.

Grantaire ducks his head a bit at the kiss, looking suddenly very young. "Be good, sister." There's pronounced irony in his tone.

Feuilly stands the rest of the way, catches up his coat. "Till later, Enjolras," kindly, and then in a dryer tone, "Grantaire." Try not to kill each other, is the implication.

Jeanne laughs. "I'll be as good as you are."

Enjolras waves a little. "Goodbye, Feuilly."

"God," mutters Grantaire, "I hope not." He nods shortly to Feuilly, his eyes on the tabletop.

Feuilly quirks that half a smile, and crosses to open the door for Jeanne and Robert.

Enjolras puts a hand to his mouth, but the other two are over by the door, and they don't hear it even if he does laugh.

Jeanne goes out of the door, and makes some quiet comment to Feuilly as he follows her.

The door shuts. Grantaire drops his head into his hands and groans. "Hellfire."

"It could have been worse." Nothing like relief to make a man philosophical. "It could have been Joly and Bossuet. And wouldn't that have been fun?" Sarcasm does not become Enjolras, but he doesn't care, today.

Grantaire winces, and holds up a hand swiftly. "Don't even say it."

Enjolras is not a very good listener. "And if they'd brought Musichetta, it could have been like having a big happy family." He shudders. "I don't think I'll ever be able to look Etienne in the eye again."

Grantaire leans back with a sigh, and mutters something blasphemous. Aloud he says dully, "I'm sorry."

Enjolras objects, "It isn't all your fault. You don't have to apologize." A little shrug. "I should apologize to you. Ruin your perfect reputation like that, and then run off in the middle of breakfast." He picks up his spoon. A few seconds later, the mush drips off of it. "Mmm. Mush."

Grantaire blinks at him. This is not an Enjolras he quite knows how to deal with. Enjolras coldly disdainful, yes. Enjolras terrified and vulnerable, yes. Enjolras wryly contemplating the Musain's mush and saying it could have been worse--? He shakes his head slightly.

Silence? With him in the room? Enjolras looks up, aware that something isn't quite right, even if he wouldn't be able to ask that question. "What's wrong?" he asks, as another lump of mush oozes off of the spoon. "I don't think they understood -- they'd have left sooner."

Grantaire slants a half-lidded look up at him, uncertain for another minute. Then his sense of irony reasserts itself, and he snorts, shaking his head again. "And faster, probably." His tone is bitter.

Enjolras pushes away the mush before the urge to throw it at the wall becomes overwhelming. "So we were lucky, I suppose."

Grantaire watches the rejected morass as it slides across the table in its bowl. "Right," he says, almost amiably. And then he pushes abruptly to his feet and walks off a couple of steps, less out of sudden anger or upset than from sheer nerves.

Enjolras looks up when Grantaire stands. "What's wrong?"

Grantaire snickers slightly. It's too short and too edgy to be termed a laugh. "What's wrong. God. That I should live to hear you ask me what's wrong. Nothing, of course. Nothing." He is trying to reassure him, but it's not likely to work well. "I just-- God have mercy."

Enjolras doesn't understand. He claims not to be naive, but the proof is in the pudding, and Grantaire is making no sense. "What?"

Grantaire's hands lift, then fall, in a sort of helpless shrug. "God knows. I -- You have noticed, haven't you, that the world is rather further from sane than usual." He turns back to face him, tense.

Enjolras's first impulse is to be sarcastic, but he decides that if he wants a straight answer, he should play along. "I've noticed that, yes." He lifts his eyebrows and waits for the rest, because, of course, there will be more.

Grantaire presses a hand to his eyes. "Look..." he begins carefully, tremulous. "What you-- I don't understand." And then out of nowhere he slams a fist down onto the nearest vacant table. "Damn it, I wasn't going to do this to you!" The words carry a world of frustration.

Enjolras jumps at the slamming. Quietly he asks, "Do what?"

"Any of this." He sinks back against the table, bracing himself with shaking hands. "I swore. After last night. I wouldn't make it any harder on you, I know--" He pauses, begins again. "You don't owe me anything. I had no right, and then Combeferre, and you need him far more than you need to justify yourself to me, I tried to tell you but it wasn't the time. I'm telling you. Now." Or at least, he's trying to.

Enjolras blinks. "I don't owe you anything. And no matter how much I depend on Etienne, and God knows it's far too much, he's going to get married, soon. He won't have time for me and my petty problems; he'll have his own real trouble." It hurts to say that, but it has to be said. "I have to learn how to cope without leaning on someone, or find someone else to lean on." He smiles, almost. "Will you break?"

Grantaire stares at him a minute, while this little speech soaks into his panicked mind. He takes a shaky breath, trying to compose an answer that is an answer. "I'll do anything for you. That's ... not it." He fumbles. How often has Grantaire had to express his honest thoughts clearly? "I mean-- this--" He scrubs a hand over his face. "What happened. Don't let it come between you and your friends. I swear I'd rather die."

Enjolras shakes his head. "You can't come between me and my friends. Women have already done that, women and the damned revolution." He holds up a hand and ticks off fingers. "Courfeyrac? Manon. Combeferre? Chantal. Feuilly? He seems interested in your sister. Prouvaire?" A slight pause, and a swallow, then, "Dead." He shakes his head. "Even Pontmercy, the poor blundering boy. Friends? I don't have them. They've gone. They don't need me anymore."

'Damned revolution' gets a twitch out of Grantaire. "Don't." He glances up then, his eyes still tormented. "Women is one thing. Are one thing. Not speaking is another. Just-- Just-- ah, God. God." And he buries his face in his hands. "We'll break you yet between us, Jehan and me, and we never meant it."

Enjolras chooses his words with caution. "If there is anything I am certain of, it is that Etienne will speak to me. Heaven knows I don't know what I shall say about the matter," and how is that for a euphemism on the fly? "-- but he will try to help me." That out of the way, he pauses again before trying to tackle the rest of what Grantaire said. "Jehan. I think, someday, I will accept that I could not have helped. But it will take more than a month. And you --" another pause, though slightly shorter "-- I can talk to you. The trouble with Jehan is that it is over, irrevocable, and not subject to change. This," a little wave meaning 'us,' "is unfinished. Nothing is broken that cannot be mended. I hope."

Grantaire seems to realize, then, just how irrationally he's behaving. He scrubs a hand over his face again, and takes in a breath. "I'm sorry," he murmurs brokenly. "I swear I am. I meant... I meant..."

Enjolras was not raised in what one might call a touchy-feely household, but his best friend is Combeferre, and he knows the first basics on when someone needs a hug. He stands up and goes over to Grantaire to put an arm around him. "It's all right. This isn't the best time, or place, to talk." Somewhere, he learned to make his voice at least a little comforting.

Grantaire almost leans against him, but catches himself. Instead he draws another deep breath, and reaches up to clasp Enjolras' shoulder in return. "No. Probably not. But that never stopped me before, did it." He makes an attempt at his usual cynical grin.

Enjolras returns the comment without any acknowledgement that it might have been humorous. "Neither did it stop me." A breath, maybe two, then he realizes what he's doing, and where. He's three steps away before you can say 'Boo.'

Perversely enough, this seems to steady Grantaire as neither the reasoned speech nor the embrace did. He straightens a bit, casting him a wry, wordless look.

Enjolras is flustered. If it isn't one thing, it's another. "If someone were to walk in, what would we say?" he asks, trying to justify himself, though it probably is even less necessary just now than it normally is.

"'Join the fun'?" He's positively arch.

Right, so he can deal with emotional trauma, death, weddings, losing friends, but a mildly rude joke sends all of the blood in his body to his cheeks. "Of course not!" There must be something very interesting on the floor. He's looking at it intently.

Grantaire dissolves into rueful chuckles. "What? You don't think it'd be a good idea, say, to invite little whatsername, Renée to play Musichetta with us?"

Enjolras claps a hand to his mouth. He doesn't find that amusing in the slightest. "Are you mad? God, no. Never." His arms end up crossed over his chest protectively. "Never," he repeats, to make sure he's understood.

Grantaire just laughs harder for a minute, before he repents and pushes a hand through his hair. "I was only joking."

"It's not funny!" Enjolras rubs a hand across his face. "If I ever, ever get so... strange, tell the police who I am and let them take me away."

Grantaire pushes away from the table, moving behind him to take him gently by the shoulders. "Stop. It's all right. You won't."

Enjolras looks at him with frightened blue eyes. "How do you know?"

Grantaire rubs his shoulders soothingly. "Because you have no sense of humor," he returns, with outright affection. "It takes a fine sense of the absurd to behave like our Joly with a straight face."

Enjolras has no reason to object to either the massage or the implication that, for whatever reason, he's not going to turn into Joly. They are equally comforting; tense muscles relax, and tense emotions let go slightly. "I suppose the real question is -- ouch, no, don't stop -- why would anyone want to act like him?"

"God knows. People find reasons to do all sorts of ridiculous things." Like incite revolutions, for instance. His fingers work gently at the more stubborn knots of tension. "I don't ask."

The door opens at this rather inopportune moment. In comes Bossuet with an old coat, and, by the time the door has shut again, an incredulous expression.

Grantaire glances up, and his hands tighten instinctively on Enjolras' shoulders. Who said instinct always did you good?

Enjolras's eyes were shut, but not anymore. He looks as if he's standing in front of a cannon without any strength of faith that his ideals will continue. "Bonjour." It's a very quiet voice. Almost meek.

Bossuet blinks. No, they're still there, so he's probably not seeing visions. "Well, good morning." He starts to laugh. It's subdued at first, but within a few seconds he has a hand on the wall and is trying to keep his balance.

Grantaire lets go, not abruptly, but not with any lingering either. "Shut up, Laigle," he says gruffly.

Enjolras cannot think of anything to say that could be at all wounding, and he doesn't want to say anything that isn't hurtful, so he says nothing. It's the old adage, but warped.

Bossuet tries, really he does. He puts a hand to his mouth and straightens up, then catches sight of them and dissolves into laughter again. "My God, you lost me so much money." The words are interrupted by hiccuping breaths and chuckles.

"Shut up. You have no idea." Grantaire leans on the back of a chair, tiredly.

That gets through to Enjolras quickly enough that he doesn't consider what he's saying. "You laid a bet? On..." no, don't say 'on this,' because that admits it. Falter, trail off, "what did you bet on?"

Bossuet shakes a finger at Enjolras, mostly because he's still giggling and can't hold it straight. "You. You're human. And damn, I picked the wrong side."

Grantaire straightens abruptly. In three strides he's crossed the room and pinned the hilarious Bossuet against the wall, and if his punishing grip left any doubt as to how serious he was, the look on his face wouldn't. "You listen to me," he says in a fierce undertone. "You pretend to be his friend; you even pretend to be mine, on occasion. Do you know what kind of hell he's been through lately? Do you know how far from lightly he's taking this? If you had a grain of sense, let alone tact, you wouldn't tell people to their faces how you talk about them behind their backs. You can be stupid and tactless just as you please; but by God you'll forbear to laugh at him, Eagle my friend, or I'll throw you through the wall. Clear?"

Bossuet listens without taking a breath, then nods as soon as he's asked.

Enjolras looks on. It occurs to him that there's no way they'll be able to explain this as anything but friendship, and probably not that. And it's not every day he has someone else stand up for him like this. It's rather flattering. Frightening, life-changing, yes, but it also feels good.

Grantaire lets go, and falls back a couple of paces, though his expression is still grim.

Bossuet checks to make sure his neck isn't broken, then, "I'm sorry, Enjolras. I obviously didn't realize -- everything." He sounds contrite. Half of it is from the shock of being shoved against a wall by Grantaire, and the other half is residual amazement from whatever that was he saw when he walked into the cafe. "Please, forgive me."

Enjolras is about as mystified as Bossuet. He nods, almost regally, because the manners drilled into his mind are several orders of magnitude too grand for Le Musain, and he's not thinking. "You are forgiven."

Grantaire drops into a chair, looking wryly amused.

Bossuet reaches up and tips his hat. "Merci." If he had a reason for coming to the cafe, it's long forgotten. He opens the door and backs out of it. "Goodbye."

The door closes, and Enjolras collapses into a chair. "We can't do anything right."

Grantaire shrugs, seeming suddenly weary. "Depends on what you call 'right'."

"Did you want to tell everyone?" He's certainly had the feeling that discretion is the better part of valor, or love, as the case may be. "Already?"

"No, but I don't fancy the alternative either." Grantaire rakes a hand through his hair. "Damn."

Enjolras looks at the door, daring it to open again. "We don't exactly have a choice. Bossuet's not the most closemouthed of men, and he's not naive, either. He'll understand." That's a truly frightening thought. He puts his head down on the table, pillowed on his arms. "I don't know what to do."

Grantaire watches him somberly. No, he is not going to get up and go over and hug him. There's a time and there's a place. "What's the worst that could happen?"

It doesn't take long for that to be answered. "Someone could tell my mother."

Grantaire winces. He'd forgotten her. "--Right." He pauses. "They wouldn't. Would they?"

"God, I hope not." He shakes his head. "How should I know? I avoid these people, when I can."

Grantaire sighs. After a minute he picks himself up out of his seat and goes over to sit down beside him. "Nobody we know even knows your mother, do they? Except Combeferre." We, it is now.

Enjolras adds, for the sake of completeness, "And Courfeyrac, though I know he's busy." The mention of Combeferre sets him to thinking. "Etienne just might say something, if he thought I was in trouble. Oh God."

"In trouble?" Grantaire echoes in a wry imitation of innocence. "Now why should he think that, I wonder."

Enjolras laughs. It sounds as if it's rather painful. "Perhaps because I'm not myself." It's the most succinct way of putting it, and then he elaborates. "She wouldn't mind my drinking, but it'd horrify her that I've been drunk. And then there's you. She doesn't like you."

A flash of that devil-may-care grin. "So who does?" He puts out a hand gently to smooth back a strand of pale hair.

Enjolras turns his head to kiss the hand. "I don't know, but I think I could name someone."

Grantaire goes still. He stares at him for a moment, scarcely breathing; then cracks a half-smile, and leans over to kiss him gently.

Enjolras accepts the kiss and returns it. One hand reaches out to grasp Grantaire's shoulder.

The door opens very quietly. Whomever it is has been warned that there's something going on, and, indeed, Joly enters with a nearly silent tread. Before he closes the door, he stands there and shakes his head.

Enjolras does not notice. He's not used to public displays of affection, and even more so, he's not used to being interrupted in them, earlier things notwithstanding.

Possibly Grantaire is warned by some faint noise or breath of wind, because he tenses slightly, and when at length he detaches himself from Enjolras and glances toward the door, he is almost defiantly unruffled.

Joly chuckles very quietly. "Bonjour." Almost to himself, he muses, "You may not appreciate it, Enjolras, but for once my Musichetta was right. Bossuet came home in a panic, and told us. She said, 'Oh, that's so sweet!' I find I must agree."

If Enjolras was embarrassed before, that leaves no word for what he is now. Mortified, perhaps, and rather angry. "You're a madman," is all he can say, and that in a disparaging tone.

Grantaire smiles serenely. He is almost madly calm, now. "You're only now discovering this?" he inquires of Enjolras kindly, and to Joly, "Bonjour, yourself."

Joly is not offended. "That's as may be, but I still think it's dear. It'll be good for both of you, have a little fun." He's grinning. Leering, if you like.

Blushing? Angry? Yes. "Don't look at me like that. Don't even consider thinking about me like that. Leave." He sounds dignified, even if he doesn't look it.

Grantaire runs his fingers through the ends of Enjolras' hair, idly, though he's watching Joly. "Kind of you to say so. Did you come all the way over here just in order to make that recommendation?"

Joly pays no attention to Enjolras, as he was expecting some reaction like that anyway. "Well, and to see if Bossuet was exaggerating." He laughs. "Wait until I tell him there's more news than he thought." There can be no happy answer to that, so he nods to them, still grinning, and ducks out the door.

Enjolras manages to stand, enraged, but by the time he gets to the door Joly's already around the corner. "Damn him."

"Idiot," remarks Grantaire without heat as Joly escapes, and remains where he is, slouched in his chair, relaxed. "Don't bother; he would have talked about it anyway sooner or later. Come sit."

Enjolras looks at the chair speculatively, then frowns. "And have someone else come in and comment? Thanks, no, I'll stand."

Grantaire raises his eyebrows. Then, pointedly, he gets to his feet and moves to the next table over.

Enjolras crosses his arms over his chest protectively. "This is stupid. No matter what we do, he'll be telling everyone." He throws up his hands in defeat and takes a seat at the new table, edging a chair over so it's next to Grantaire's.

Grantaire quirks a faint smile. "That's for certain. Joly couldn't keep a secret in a strongbox." He holds out a hand to him, unobtrusively, so that he can ignore it if he wants.

Enjolras takes the hand, tilting his head slightly to the side. "So. How long will this last, do you think? Until we drive each other mad? No, it's too late, we've done that already. Until everyone finds out and pokes fun at us? I should think no one would be as rude as Joly has been."

A small, careful shrug. A glint of irony, perhaps. "Until you tell me to leave you the hell alone."

"Well, it's too late for that." Enjolras smiles. "You're, well, whatever you are now, and I don't mean for you to go away anytime soon."

Grantaire looks down at their laced fingers, and can think of nothing intelligent to say. He settles for bantering. "Well, if you don't mean for me to, then it's settled, isn't it?"

"I should say so." A slight squeeze of the fingers, then, sadly, "I don't know what they'll all say."

Again the sudden wry grin. "Either 'Congratulations' or 'Good God, man!', I should think."

Enjolras's eyebrows go up sharply. Then, he looks away. In a soft voice, "That's not what I would have said."

Grantaire's thumb caresses the back of his hand lightly. "No?"

Enjolras shakes his head. "Of course not, did you never hear me yelling at you? 'Twisted...' 'Nauseating...' 'Unnatural...' You know how that other person named Enjolras felt. He had bigger things on his mind, and listened to his mother too much." He laughs shortly. "I'd have kicked me out of the cafe."

This remark is odd enough to appeal to Grantaire's sense of humor. He chuckles, and for once it lacks the edge of mockery. "It's a good thing nobody's told you what you're up to, then."

"Heaven knows I have no idea what I'm doing." If Joly was there, he'd be able to explain that Enjolras is leaning over to kiss Grantaire on the cheek.

Grantaire seems to get the idea, though. He half-smiles as the kiss lands, and his free hand steals out to smooth back Enjolras' hair again. "That's all right. Very few people do."

Enjolras takes that the wrong way. "Thank God." Then, he thinks for a moment. "Oh, you mean... yes, I suppose being confused is part of the human condition."

Grantaire blinks, then chuckles again in bemused delight.

Enjolras's eyes narrow. "Are you making fun of me now? I don't know if I like that."

The look pierces Grantaire's newfound tranquillity. The mockery comes back to his eyes. "I don't know if you do either. Shall I leave you the hell alone?"

"No, I should be quite used to it by now." Another squeeze of the hand. "When did you ever do anything else?"

"Not often," Grantaire concedes. And more gently, "I don't mean any harm, you know."

"I know. Now, I know a lot of things I never knew when I was that idiot Enjolras fellow." He winks, even though he is blushing slightly.

Grantaire grins a bit. "Marcelin." If he was anyone else, it would be positively caressing, but from Grantaire it's only affectionately amused. Which is probably just as well.

"I suppose I'll have to learn to listen to that more often, then, won't I?" It's slightly rueful, but he chuckles. "That, or find some other name I like better."

"It suits you." Grantaire shrugs slightly, still half-smiling.

"Does it? I don't think I've ever really thought about that before." He does, for a moment. "I suppose you're right."

Grantaire feigns astonishment. "I am? Good Lord. I didn't mean to."

Enjolras quotes mildly, "It suits you."

Well, well. Who would have thought that Grantaire could blush? "First time for everything," he mutters.

Enjolras chuckles. "It certainly seems so."

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