The middle of the week after Easter is not always a pleasant time of year. This particular day is muddy, rainy, and inhospitable in the extreme. The travellers who are returning to Paris are all glad to quit the carriage and reach their homes.
Enjolras is among those bundled in unseasonable overcoats against the damp. His clothes are grimy from toe to knee by the time he leaves the street, and his expression reflects the dingy day. The sight of his familiar apartment does little to lighten his mood. Perhaps if it were occupied when he arrived, it would have been more help, but the other resident is not in evidence when he drags his luggage in and begins to unpack it.
Before very long, however, the door opens again, admitting a slightly bedraggled Grantaire. He pauses in the doorway, raking a hand through his hair. "Well. Hello."
"Hello, yourself." Enjolras closes a drawer and turns, still not smiling. "How have you been?"
Grantaire shrugs slightly. "Getting by. How did it go?"
"Badly." Enjolras pulls a pair of pants out of his suitcase and a string of beads clatters out of the pocket.
Grantaire jumps slightly at the rattle. "Sorry to hear it," restrained.
Enjolras picks up the beads, blushing. "My father asked me when I was going to marry. My sister Julie, the one who is getting married this summer, she gave me a rosary. Of all the useless presents, this," he throws it on the pillow. "But I could hardly tell her that I would never touch it willingly."
Grantaire stares at it a moment, then turns to shut the door behind him. "No."
Enjolras sits on the edge of the bed and puts his head in his hands. "I should have told them I was ill, anything to stop them from forcing me to go to Mass with them. I have not betrayed anything as much as I did that day. I -- I could not remain behind while they took Communion, but I was unshriven. I was surprised that I did not choke to death on it."
Grantaire smiles thinly. "Doesn't work that way. That'd be far too simple." He crosses to lean on the desk, bracing his hands to either side.
"At least then my lie would have been clear." Enjolras looks up, but does not straighten his back. "What do you think it means?"
Grantaire raises his eyebrows fractionally. "What does what mean?"
"I should not have been able to do what I did, and yet nothing stopped me. Why not? Surely God does not think I haven't sinned." Enjolras shakes his head again. "I have not confessed since my mother was here, seeking Chantal, and since then a thousand things have happened."
"If there's a God," Grantaire says dryly, "I'm inclined to think he'd rather lie in wait till you're dead, and then surprise you."
Enjolras looks from him to the rosary. "That is not what I was taught."
"I know." A dark brow arches. "Since when has that mattered to you?"
"Since I lied to myself, my family, the priest, and God. I don't know how to make amends for this." Enjolras stands rapidly, as if he cannot bear to sit any longer, and resumes unpacking his belongings hastily.
Grantaire watches him with unreadable eyes. "One could always avoid the occasion, and whatnot."
"I have been," a drawer bangs shut, "I do," another opens, just as quickly, "I tried to, I couldn't. What do you suggest?"
"Oh, I suggest nothing," dryly. "I merely observe."
"You are no help at all," Enjolras declares, turning from the now-chaotic drawers to address Grantaire. "You don't understand what I'm thinking; you don't understand what I've done."
Grantaire looks away. "Of course not."
Enjolras raises a hand to an almost declamatory posture. "This is all your fault."
"Is it, now." Flatly. "Well, I might have known. It usually is."
"Don't you care?" Enjolras takes hold of his shoulder. "Don't you understand how wrong this is?"
Grantaire's hands tighten on the edge of the desk. "What do you want me to say to you?"
"Tell me that I am not sinning. Tell me that it is not wrong to love you." Enjolras's hand tightens on Grantaire's shoulder. "Tell me that God was not offended that during Mass I could only think of you."
Grantaire leans into the touch, but: "How can I tell you that?"
"I don't know." Enjolras sighs. "If I knew, I wouldn't ask it of you."
"We may," Grantaire says carefully, reaching up to brush Enjolras' fingers with his own, "be destined for perdition. For myself, I don't care. --I'll leave, if you want me to."
"If I wanted you to leave, I would tell you more directly than this." Enjolras shakes his head, almost chuckling. "I would have confessed. God knows, I would repent, but I cannot repent because I only fear retribution. I don't regret what we've done."
Grantaire turns to meet his eyes soberly. "Then neither do I."
Enjolras looks away. "I should regret this. I ought to feel more guilt about what I did, what I've done, what I will do. Sometimes I can."
"I don't believe it."
"Because if it was worth regretting, you would." Grantaire half-smiles. "I don't have much conscience of my own, but I trust yours."
"It is worth regretting when it causes me trouble. If you saw my mother's face the first time my father asked me when I was going to marry, you would believe me that I can regret this."
Grantaire glances away again. "I'm sorry."
"It is not solely your fault." Enjolras kisses his cheek. "I am as much to blame for my misconduct as you."
A crooked grin. "I thought you said it was."
"Perhaps I exaggerated somewhat. Besides, it must be a matter of credit as much as blame, so if it is entirely your doing, you should be acclaimed for the benefits of this as much as chastised for the drawbacks." Enjolras draws away and closes the bag that had been open on the bed.
"You and your egalitarian notions," Grantaire says affectionately, and moves to straighten one of the drawers left open.
"Sometimes I can be egalitarian," Enjolras admits, "but generally, the theory dissolves in practice."
Grantaire merely smiles, and pushes the drawer in.
Enjolras puts his luggage under the bed, then picks up the rosary from the pillow. "I suppose I should put this away so that I know where it is when I visit my family again."
Grantaire half-smiles. "Probably."
Enjolras puts the beads into his bag, then straightens and stretches. "It is good to be home."
"It's good to have you home." Grantaire goes over to rest hands on his shoulders.
"I'm sorry I was so confused," Enjolras says quietly. "I should know by now."
"God's sake, fair-haired boy. You've a right." Fingers tighten on his shoulders soothingly.
"'God's sake,'" Enjolras mimics delicately, "do I?"
Grantaire chuckles, and drops a kiss to his hair. "Of course."
"In the name of equality, not to mention fraternity, I should not."
"Ah, God, don't talk to me about equality," sliding his arms around Enjolras' waist. "Not right now."
Enjolras chuckles and leans into the embrace a little. "I suppose this means the discourse on liberty can wait for another day, too?"
"Don't make me distract you," Grantaire murmurs into his ear.
Challenged, Enjolras stands straighter. "Do you think you can, really?"
Grantaire shifts a hand, and presses a kiss to his nape. "I can try."
Enjolras's breath catches. "You can try, yes. Many people have tried to prevent others from obtaining their liberty, but they were fighting an uphill battle."
"Mm-hm." Another kiss lands at the nape of his neck.
It causes Enjolras to pause for a second. "Freedom is the natural state of man. All governments that declare otherwise are tyrants. Any government that limits its subjects without their consent is not a natural government."
Grantaire lets a hand trail downward. "To be sure." His other arm tightens around Enjolras' waist.
"Of course, limitless freedom is not feasible under many circumstances," Enjolras continues, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "Anarchy is no better than despotism."
"Not in the least," and deft fingers begin undoing Enjolras' buttons. "Here, let me liberate you from that."
Enjolras grins for a moment before he remembers that he is not supposed to be distracted. "The only way to preserve liberties that are necessary for existence is to sacrifice unreasonable freedoms."
Grantaire presses another kiss behind his ear. "Such as."
"The -- the ability to take what belongs to another person," a pause much too long for a skilled orator, "should not exist. The right to property supersedes it. The ability to take another man's life should not exist for anyone, even a government."
"Of a certainty," Grantaire breathes, and attempts to ease Enjolras out of his coat.
Enjolras does not resist this liberation in the slightest. "This limit on the government's power means, in turn, that it must have the ability and the right to limit the freedom of men who overstep their bounds and infringe upon the rights of their neighbors. Every man must have the right to do what he thinks is best for him; that is his birthright. When he infringes on another man's liberty, something must be done."
"Indeed." Fingers stroke purposefully through his hair.
"Because it is unlikely that any single person will be able to take responsibility for the actions of any other individual, the government must step in when a wrong has been committed. Proof of guilt is necessary before a citizen loses any freedom."
Grantaire sidesteps to face him, hands resting lightly at his waist. "Go on," very softly.
Enjolras falters, biting his lip. "I'm trying." He takes a deep breath, fixes his eyes on a point over Grantaire's shoulder, and continues, "If a government does not respect its citizens' inherent right to freedom, it should not be allowed to persist."
Grantaire leans in to kiss him lightly. "Not--" another kiss "--for a moment."
Enjolras's fingers tangle in his hair. "In the name of freedom and justice... any rightful government must justify its actions."
A third kiss lands, lingering. "That's only right."
"Only right -- individuals must be protected by their ability to change the government." This sentence is finished in a rush, and after it Enjolras can only blink for a moment before kissing Grantaire, thereby spoiling the exercise at hand.
"Well said," Grantaire murmurs after a breathless moment. "And many good points raised. Shall we sleep on it?"
"Admirable plan." Another kiss.
Grantaire sinks onto the bed, pulling Enjolras down with him. "Adjourned, then," he murmurs, and twines his fingers into the golden hair.
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