17. Subido Piano

Combeferre puts down his cards on the bed and goes to look out the window for what must be the tenth time this hour. "At least the weather's fair," he says irrelevantly.

Chantal looks over her shoulder at him, brow furrowed. "Yes."

In the street, Courfeyrac, Manon, and Enjolras are approaching slowly. Combeferre opens the window, and shouts, "You're not dead!" He's relieved. Very much so.

Chantal blinks at him, then throws down her cards and runs to join him at the window.

"Really?" Manon returns tartly. "Are you sure?"

Combeferre makes room for Chantal, and calls down, "Yes, even more so, now. Come up. Bring Marcelin." Marcelin looks like he's about to fall asleep on Manon, which could be uncomfortable for them both.

Enjolras stands up slightly straighter. "Bonjour, Etienne. How is Chantal? Alive, I hope?" He must be falling asleep, since he's joking.

So Manon steers the boys toward the door, with a somewhat resigned look. Courfeyrac opens the door for them.

"I'm here," Chantal says uncertainly, peering over Combeferre's shoulder.

Grantaire tails the trio at some distance, in the interests of inconspicuousness, with his hands lodged in his pockets and his eyes on the ground.

Enjolras seems to get a bit more energy as he goes inside, and lets go of Manon to lead the way up to Combeferre's apartment.

Courfeyrac looks over his shoulder at Grantaire. "You're invited, of course. It's a 'Thank God we're alive' party, and you are, too."

Grantaire stops, glances up at him, looks down at himself, looks back up with a dry, "So I am," and heads for the door.

Courfeyrac doesn't quite laugh. He looks forward to Manon, and puts his arm around her waist. "I don't really want to celebrate. Just sleep."

"Oh. God yes." Manon leans wearily against him.

Combeferre opens the door as Enjolras comes down the corridor.

"We're here," Manon announces unnecessarily, "we're back-- we're fine-- mostly--" We're perhaps a wee bit punchy.

Chantal ducks past Combeferre and out into the hall to embrace her brother, wordlessly.

Enjolras embraces her. "Thank God you're all right," he says into her hair. "I'm so sorry, Chantal. I didn't mean it."

Courfeyrac looks at Manon, slightly worried. "Fine? Yes. Tired, especially."

Chantal has no idea what he means, but that's fine. "I know you didn't. It's all right. Are you all right?"

Combeferre nods to Manon, and Courfeyrac. "I do have an extra bed. I'm sure you're exhausted."

"Yes, I'm all right." Enjolras lets her go slightly, and clarifies, "You don't have to marry anyone you don't want to marry."

Grantaire trudges up the stairs, one hand trailing along the rail, and pauses at the top to lean on the wall, regarding them all blandly.

"Oh--" Chantal reddens, and ducks her head.

Combeferre looks down the hall, and sees Grantaire. He smiles. "François, you actually managed to keep him alive. I didn't think anyone could."

Grantaire says most ironically, "I have hidden talents." He pushes away from the wall. "Actually, he had the sense to duck."

Courfeyrac looks at the exhausted Manon, then considers his own condition. "Where's that spare bed I heard of?"

Combeferre turns back to Courfeyrac. "Just go in, and through the inner door. It's rather obvious."

"Mmmm," murmurs Manon in tones of boundless bliss. "Bless you, Etienne."

Combeferre smiles. "Sleep well, Manon," as Courfeyrac takes her inside. "We should get out of the corridor, really. Don't want to disturb the other boarders."

Chantal nods, releasing her poor exhausted brother and stepping aside to let everyone in.

The inner door closes behind Courfeyrac and Manon. Enjolras makes it into the apartment, and collapses in the selfsame chair where he slept last night.

Grantaire makes his way slowly up the hallway, and inside last of all.

Combeferre sits on the bed. "What happened? Tell me."

Chantal has learned to make tea since coming to live with Combeferre. She takes a look at Enjolras and Grantaire, and moves to do just that.

Enjolras begins with the thing that stands out most in his mind. "I could not save Jehan, or Bahorel."

Grantaire winces slightly, as he crosses to claim his previous square of floor.

"Oh, no." Combeferre is not surprised that some people were actually hurt, but it makes it more real to hear the names. "But the rest?"

A small sound escapes Chantal at these tidings, and she has to pause in her preparations to press a hand to her eyes for a moment, but she doesn't abandon the task.

Enjolras's eyes are blank for a moment. "They are all alive. I believe they all went home, while the men I gathered today went on to change more of the city."

"Bastards," remarks Grantaire, presumably vis-a-vis the killers of Bahorel and Prouvaire rather than any group of insurgents. His reactions have been a trifle delayed for the past hour or so. And after a moment, "Astoundingest thing you ever saw."

Combeferre nods slowly. "Only two. It's not so bad. Poor Jehan. Poor Gregory." He shakes his head. "At least you are all right, and Courfeyrac, and Manon, and Paul?" The last is a question.

"Feuilly? He's fine." Enjolras shrugs slightly. "Just like the rest of us. Fine." He laughs. It's not a happy laugh.

Combeferre raises an eyebrow. "You don't sound 'fine.'"

"Of course he's not," Grantaire growls.

"I haven't been 'fine' for a long time." Enjolras says this slowly, because he is exhausted, and he wants to be absolutely positive everyone understands him. "I want to rest. Maybe, once I have slept, the world will start to make sense again."

"Then go to sleep." Combeferre throws a pillow from the bed at Enjolras, who catches it and puts it behind his head.

Chantal sits down on the edge of the desk, numbly watching the water boil.

Enjolras follows the advice, but before he drifts off entirely, he opens his eyes and tells Chantal, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to tell you what to do. I must have been wrong."

"It's all right," she murmurs again, looking at her feet.

Combeferre looks from Chantal to Marcelin. "It's all right. We'll talk when you've rested, Marcelin." He turns to Grantaire. "You must have had a long day."

Enjolras nods. "Yes. We'll talk." His head droops onto his chest.

Grantaire shrugs. Stoic. "I'm all right." He casts a glance at Enjolras, and starts climbing to his feet. "I ought to get out from underfoot."

Combeferre shrugs. "I thought we'd have a sleepover. René and Manon will probably spend the night here. Marcelin is in no state to travel. Why don't you stay, too? I'll be glad of the company." He shoots a questioning glance at Chantal.

Chantal nods gravely.

Grantaire hesitates, but being not a very strong-willed young man and more tired than he cares to let on, he acquiesces, and subsides onto the floor again.

Combeferre stands up and takes the blanket off of the bed. He hasn't had a tiring day, and he wants his guests to be comfortable, so he gives the bedclothes to Grantaire. "If you're going to sleep there, be comfortable while you do it. Are you sure you don't want the bed?"

Grantaire waves a hand at him. "Nonsense," he says gruffly. "I'm sure you'll make better use of it than I could."

Combeferre blushes and looks at the floor. "I doubt that," he says in a choked voice. He doesn't even begin to look at Chantal.

Chantal blinks at Grantaire, then goes scarlet as well, jumping up to see to the tea.

Grantaire looks wry. He doesn't apologize, but he doesn't pursue it, either.

Combeferre composes himself slightly. "Must you sleep on the floor? You're making my back hurt."

"If I get too uncomfortable," Grantaire says blithely, "there's always the other chair."

Combeferre surrenders. "All right, fine. Sleep."

"Thank you," returns the R mildly, though he doesn't appear immediately inclined to do so. He leans back against the bed, contemplating the wallpaper. "You two have any trouble?"

Combeferre draws the wrong conclusion at first, and hastily answers, "No!" Then, he realizes what Grantaire must have meant. "No, it's been pretty quiet all day, except for the tocsin."

"Petrifyingly." Chantal contemplates her tea. "Does anybody want this?"

Combeferre frowns. "Not right now, thank you." He asks Grantaire, "What did you do all day?"

Grantaire shakes his head to Chantal, not quite looking at her. "Walked," he says laconically.

"Instilled anger against the government into the hearts of men? Or was that just Marcelin?"

Well. So much for that. If Marcelin was awake, she could make him drink it, but he isn't. Chantal kicks out the chair instead, and drops into it.

"Naturally," Grantaire says. "To each according to his talents. There were about a hundred of them at one point."

Combeferre raises his eyebrows. "I wouldn't have thought there were that many men willing to fight who weren't already in a barricade." He smiles faintly. "Only Marcelin could have found them. And I don't know how he does it."

Grantaire slants him a look almost like that mischievous one of Chantal's. On him, it's gnomish. "Magic."

Combeferre chuckles. "Perhaps. I wish he could teach me. I'd teach him something in return." He shakes his head as if to clear it.

"Like sense," mutters Chantal.

"That would be a good place to start." Combeferre leans back on the bed slightly.

There is quiet then for a minute. Chantal sighs, and gets up and crosses to the bed to slip a comforting arm about Combeferre's shoulders.

Combeferre turns his head to kiss her on the cheek. "It's not congenital. Don't worry."

Chantal laughs faintly. "Sometimes I wonder," she murmurs.

Combeferre snorts slightly. "You're not the one who was running through the streets with a gun, right?"

Grantaire, meanwhile, is uncharacteristically quiet, seeming to have dozed off.

"I was close," she retorts, half indignant, half rueful.

"Yes, you were." He's slightly dejected at that. "But you stopped insisting."

Chantal puts both arms around him then, and buries her face in his shoulder with a sigh.

Combeferre adds, more quietly, "I'm glad you stopped."

"So'm I," Chantal murmurs, without elaborating.

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