41. Reasonable Doubt

July 26th

A cool summer breeze is blowing, this night, through Paris. It is perhaps half past ten, and in this particular street few lamps are lit, allowing the stars to be seen faintly, if anyone was there to see them besides a wandering girl and a scruffy young man who walks as though driven, hands shoved in his pockets.

Katharine, a short slip of a girl with golden-brown hair and hazel eyes, wanders aimlessly down the street, no particular destination in mind. It is rather late for one such as her to be out. Truth be told, though darkness fills the street, it has not yet sunk into Katharine that it is night.

Grantaire's eyes are neither on the ground nor on the sky, but nonetheless he does not appear to be watching where he's going. He bids fair to cross paths with Katharine soon, and he's walking quickly.

Not only is Katharine unaware that it is night and therefore she should have been home hours ago, she is unaware of the young man headed on a collision course with her. And why should she be? She lives not in the mundane world, but in a world filled with poetry, dreams and happy endings for all.

And so a moment later there is a jarring thud and a remarkably colorful oath, as Grantaire knocks into her with not inconsiderable momentum. "--hell!"

Katharine shakes her head, dazed, and tries to reclaim her wits. She looks up at the stranger who literally knocked her breath away. She sees a youngish, scruffy looking man. "I'm so sorry, M'sieur," she gasps.

Grantaire catches at her shoulder, to steady her or himself or both. "Hell and damn. --Sorry. Sorry about that. Blast."

Enjolras comes around the corner at precisely the wrong moment. He stares at this little tableau, saying nothing.

Katharine blushes in embarrassment. "No, please, it's all my fault." She looks around, noticing for the first time that night had fallen. She lowers her eyes briefly. "I'm afraid I wasn't paying attention."

"Neither was I." He brushes awkwardly at her sleeve as though to help dust her off, before pushing a hand through his hair. "My apologies."

Once might be a mistake; twice is not. Enjolras, never one to think before he acts on his emotions, approaches the pair and asks Grantaire, "Is this how you express love? By rushing off to find some girl?"

Katharine jumps in surprise and stares at the newcomer. "Where did he come from?" she wonders. She inches away from him.

Grantaire starts, turning swiftly. "Marcelin," he says, bemusedly, and then, "oh, good God. Don't be absurd."

"I'm being absurd, am I?" Enjolras waves a hand at the girl. "What's this? Are you just walking her home, then? Never saw her in your life?" He has trouble dealing with all sorts of things, and infidelity is apparently high on that list.

Katharine narrows her eyes. She is normally a very tolerant person but she hates to be referred to as if she is not there. "I beg your pardon, M'sieur," she speaks in the most coldest voice she can muster.

"Actually," Grantaire returns with an attempt at composure, "I never have."

Enjolras had thought he was being facetious. He blinks, disarmed. "Really?" Having lost his momentum, he turns to Katharine, nodding slightly. "Good evening, mademoiselle."

Katharine blinks at the lighter tone in his voice. Her voice thaws a little. "Good evening," she replies. "He speaks the truth, m'sieur. We have only just met."

Grantaire rakes back his hair again. "Ran into each other, you might say." His tone is a touch irritable; he's not at his best. "I apologize again."

Enjolras drops his gaze. Chastely, one might add. "I am sorry. I shouldn't have -- drawn the wrong conclusion. I beg your pardon."

Grantaire moves to rest a hand on his shoulder, not particularly discreetly. "It's all right."

How odd. For a brief moment, Katharine senses some sort of... tie between the two men. She shrugs the feeling aside and smiles tentatively at Marcelin.

Enjolras is distracted from the girl. She only really mattered as an obstacle. "Is it? How pleasant." A bit of manners return, and he smiles nearly genuinely at her. "Have a good night, then, mademoiselle."

Grantaire adds, again, but less gruffly, "I'm sorry about that."

"Please, m'sieur, it's quite all right," Katharine answers. She thinks it's a little charming that he insists on taking all the blame but she is well aware of her daydreaming tendencies. "The fault is not all yours."

Grantaire quirks a faint ironical smile, but restrains any remarks that come to mind, and merely dips his head politely.

Enjolras gives Grantaire some strange sort of look. In front of company, no less. "Shall we be going?"

"I suppose we should," Grantaire agrees after a moment.

"It was... nice running into you," Katharine smiles wryly at Grantaire then turns to Enjolras. "It was nice to meet you as well." She feels like she should say something more but isn't quite sure what. She makes a quick curtsey to both.

"Have a pleasant night," Enjolras says again, then gives Grantaire another, more impatient look.

Grantaire sketches a bow, in his roughly courteous way, and nods to Enjolras, letting his hand fall and moving to depart.

Katharine smiles then turns away, reluctantly deciding to wander back home.

As they walk, Enjolras asks, "Did you actually run into the poor girl?"

"Literally." Grantaire grimaces slightly. "I am a dolt. What can I say?"

"You apologized. That sounds like the right thing to me, but what do I know?" Enjolras regards him speculatively. "You run into people, even when you're not drinking. How inconvenient."

Grantaire rolls his eyes elaborately. "Sobriety does not necessarily confer sense, my fair-haired boy. Much less grace."

This elicits a weary complaint. "Must you call me that?"

"Why, does it bother you? I thought it would be a nice change from demigod."

Enjolras opens his mouth to retort angrily, then sighs instead. "It's better, but not much."

Grantaire reaches up to run his fingers through Enjolras' hair. "True, isn't it?"

"I'm not a boy. I'm almost as old as you are," though he sounds quite petulant enough to be a child.

"Oh, but you are, my love. Twenty-two." Grantaire shakes his head. "Besides, all that's before. You're just newly hatched, now."

"Hatched? You're cracked."

Grantaire dissolves into chuckles. "To be sure. Out of your egg, you little golden fledgling, to be sure. And you think I'm odd when I'm drunk." He stops short, catching Enjolras into his arms. "Fair-haired boy, by God. I won't unsay it."

Enjolras is only slightly surprised at this display, and not dismayed at all. "I think you're odd when you're sober, for that matter." And another question, "If you actually came up with some appellation I liked, you wouldn't use it, would you?"

"Am I that contrary?" He grins at him crookedly.

"Around me? Constantly." To show that he's not really complaining, Enjolras kisses Grantaire on the cheek.

Grantaire returns the gesture, twining his fingers in Enjolras' hair. "Usually."

"You're doing it again."

That gets a laugh. "Damn, you noticed."

"Is that so amazing?" Enjolras lifts his eyebrows. "You can't distract me that much by tying my hair into knots."

"No? Then I'll have to resort to more forceful methods," and Grantaire kisses him soundly.

Eventually, Enjolras muses, "That worked. What were we arguing about?"

Grantaire grins, though it's gentler than usual. "I don't recall."

"Ah. It must not have been important, then." Enjolras initiates the kiss, this time.

This time Grantaire's hands do not stay in Enjolras' hair. At length, he murmurs, "We could continue this conversation once we get home."

"We could. Where were you going?" Enjolras backs away to a rather more socially acceptable distance.

Grantaire blinks. "Was I?" It takes him a minute. "Oh. Nowhere."

"Then what are you doing out here?"

That grin flashes. "Corrupting your virtue. You hadn't noticed?"

"What virtue?" Enjolras spreads his hands, grinning back. "If I had any left, I wouldn't be here at all."

Grantaire chuckles a bit ruefully. "I suppose not."

"Then I think we can declare me corrupt and be done with that issue." A slight pause, then, "It doesn't settle the matter of where we're going."

Grantaire catches at his hand. "Home, I thought."

Enjolras lets it be captured. "Whose?"

Grantaire pretends to consider this. "Mine's closer, actually, but it's hardly presentable."

Enjolras shakes his head slightly. "I didn't imagine the decor mattered all that much, under the circumstances. Whatever those are."

Grantaire assumes a modest manner. "Well. I can only hope that my company will be diverting enough that it isn't noticeable."

Enjolras can't quite find it in him to banter. Thinking of a response makes him blush, and he can't deliver it. Instead, he says, "I hope so, too."

Grantaire lifts his hand and kisses it, half-smiling. "Shall we, then?"

Enjolras goes passive. "All right."

Grantaire slips an arm about his shoulders. "All right, then."

Enjolras allows himself to be led.

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