33. Questions

Grantaire sprawls on the bed in his shirtsleeves, paging through some book or other, and attempting not to distract Enjolras from his writing.

Enjolras finishes a paragraph and pauses to blow on the ink. While it dries, he rereads it. "You know, I may not have an encompassing dream, but I can still put words together quite well."

Grantaire glances up with a small grin. "Somehow that doesn't surprise me."

Enjolras smiles slightly. "It does me, a little. I thought I'd have lost my muse. It was rather frightening, but no, I can still express myself."

Grantaire lets the book slip aside, tucks his arms behind his head. "I should say so."

"But I still can't talk about what I don't know." Enjolras looks at him a little nervously. "I wish I knew what I was doing."

Grantaire says helpfully, "You're writing an essay. Writing, you know. Making letters on paper that fit together into words?"

Enjolras waves a hand. "Not that. This." A gesture at the room in general. "Essays are just words. It's not a problem."

Grantaire half grins, conceding the point with a little shrug. "If I knew, I'd tell you."

Enjolras frowns, setting the paper on his desk to examine Grantaire more thoroughly. "You mean you don't know either, then?"

Grantaire tilts his head slightly, with that familiar wry look. "What do you want me to tell you? You're creating a new life for yourself?" He makes a token effort not to sound mocking, but it doesn't work very well.

Enjolras blinks. "You make it sound as if I know what I'm doing. Making a new life indeed. I'm just... I don't know. Blundering."

"There you are, then. That's what you're doing." Grantaire grins at him.

"I hate that! I don't want to blunder, I want to know what's going on. This is hideous." Enjolras shakes his head. "I do not blunder."

"Of course you don't," Grantaire says kindly, "my demigod."

He was irritated at himself, but it's very easily transferred to Grantaire. "Don't ever call me that again." Not yelling, just a low, dangerous voice.

Grantaire studies him levelly, and says nothing at all, which might be taken for passive-aggressive but is more likely, given the source, implicit obedience.

Enjolras takes what he can get, in this instance. "I'm not. I never was, and if I was ever anything of the sort, I wouldn't be now."

"So you don't know what you're doing. Mere mortals are allowed that. It's our natural state." Grantaire frees a hand, picks up the book, closes it properly before setting it aside again.

"That doesn't mean I have to like it." He's still flustered, but less irritated. "How do you bear it?"

This comes too close to being a real question. Grantaire shrugs to deflect it, shooting him a mock-meaningful look. "There are ways and means."

Enjolras almost blushes, and certainly looks away. "But that doesn't help, any more than drinking did."

"No, but it takes your mind off it," Grantaire returns, almost absent-mindedly. He's quiet for a moment; then he sighs. "Hell if I know what to tell you," gently.

"Oh." Another few moments of silence. "Does it help more if one is in love?"

Grantaire glances up sharply. There is a pause; then he lets out a slightly uneven breath. "It does. Considerably."

Enjolras thinks about this for a moment. "And how would one know? I assume there's no sudden arrow in the heart; the bourgeoisie have slain Cupid. No sudden flash of light, no instant knowledge."

Grantaire's smile is extraordinarily ironical even for him. "No, none of that."

Enjolras asks, in a manner he might consider logical, "Then how do you know?"

Grantaire glances at the floor, still half-grinning. "It dawns on you, eventually. You know how it is when you wake up one morning and discover that all three things you had to do yesterday have gone undone and furthermore you've got to write to your mother today and your rent's overdue?"

Enjolras, who has never been late on his rent in years of studying in Paris, nods. "Do you mean that you put off noticing for too long, and then it hits you, and there you are?"

"There you are, yes, and all you can do is sort of flail and say 'oh, bloody hell' a few times, and live with it." He looks up again wryly.

"Why would you want to do anything that made you feel like that?" Enjolras frowns. "People write poetry about that?"

Grantaire props himself up on his elbows. "Don't ask me. I never understood why people write poetry at all."

Enjolras gives him an exasperated look. "You know what I meant. Why would anyone fall in love if it makes them curse?"

Grantaire grins yet more crookedly, if that's possible. "Well, nobody does it on purpose."

"Still." The answer isn't satisfying Enjolras. "It doesn't make sense. I've heard people talking about love for years. They want to fall in love." A speculative look at Grantaire, and then, "Love makes people do stupid things." From the rising inflection, it would be logical to assume that this is a question.

A dark brow quirks. "So it seems."

"You're not helping at all." It's almost petulant. "I'm sure I could think of some examples. Can't you?" This question is more pointed.

Grantaire is unruffled. "Did I contradict you?"

Enjolras glares in earnest, but doesn't want to ask what he's thinking. "Of course you didn't."

Grantaire half-smiles, and pushes to his feet and comes over to stand behind Enjolras' chair, resting his hands on his shoulders. "You want advice? Don't think about it too hard."

Enjolras sighs, not relaxing yet. "I don't have anything else to think about. If I -- we go out, they'll stare at us. I have nothing to say about that."

Grantaire makes so bold as to drop a kiss into his hair, before letting a sigh escape. "Ah, mon ami," or perhaps it's 'mon amour'? "You worry too damned much."

Enjolras does not move. "I don't have anything else to do." To justify his actions, he continues, "I always did worry. I just worried about things that weren't real yet."

Grantaire sighs again. "What shall I tell you?"

"What I want to hear, of course." Enjolras leans his head gently on the hand on his shoulder. "And when I know what that is, I shall tell you, so you can parrot it back to me and make me happy."

Grantaire chuckles. "It's a bargain." His free hand tousles the fair hair, roughly.

Enjolras sits up straight again and catches Grantaire's wrist in his hand. "Stop that."

Grantaire blinks down at him. Starts to answer flippantly, and desists. Glances down, then, and lets his free hand fall, and gently frees his captured one.

Enjolras realizes that he's overreacted slightly again. "I'm sorry. Just don't, please. No one does that to me but my Aunt Celeste, and I don't like her at all. She thinks I am still five years old."

Grantaire quirks a half-smile. "All right." 'Sorry' is a word that comes, if possible, less readily to him than to Enjolras, but his look is wryly apologetic.

Enjolras makes himself smile back. "Really, I know you're not her. Just don't ruffle my hair."

Grantaire tucks his hands in his pockets. "I won't, believe me. I don't fancy being mistaken for anyone's aunt."

"I was being silly." He turns to look at Grantaire. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

The shrug, the grin, the flare of mockery. "I'm not that fragile." He wanders over to drop down on the bed again.

Enjolras, not bothering to be subtle, because there's little point, goes over to sit next to him. "Good. It'd be very hard if we both were."

Grantaire chuckles slightly, and pats him very gently on the shoulder.

Enjolras is in a strange mood. He kisses Grantaire on the cheek.

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