18. Rude Awakenings

Presently Manon stretches, kicking the covers down a little.

Courfeyrac shivers and, still half asleep, pulls them up over his shoulders again.

Manon aims a light swat at his shoulder, for no particular reason, and yawns, sitting up.

"Mmmff?" Courfeyrac is awake. Now. "Where the hell are we?"

Manon stifles another yawn, swinging her feet over the side of the bed. "Combeferre's."

Courfeyrac shows no inclination to get out of bed. "Oh, yes. That's right. We weren't arrested in our sleep -- that's a good sign."

"I would say so," she agrees, and scrubs her hands over her face. "Lord, what time is it?" This is a ritual, and he doesn't actually have to answer.

Courfeyrac rubs his eyes. "I have no idea. Ask someone else, if anyone else is up yet."

Manon ignores him. "If I don't manage to wash my hair soon, I'm going to go out of my mind." She pushes to her feet, and then stands there motionless suddenly.

After a moment, he asks, "What's wrong?"

She takes in a breath. "Just thinking." Turning, she locates Chantal's comb, and appropriates it, starting to drag it through her tangled hair.

Courfeyrac sighs, and finally sits up. "It's probably too early to think."

Manon gives an odd little snort of suppressed laughter. "Mmmm-hm."

Courfeyrac puts his head in his hands. "I know I'm not that funny. What's on your mind?"

"I was only going to say," Manon retorts somewhat mendaciously, "that that's better than it being too late to think."

Courfeyrac looks up and grins at her. "It was that all day yesterday, and the night before. I've had enough of it."

Manon jerks at a particularly obstinate tangle. "Yes." She's quiet then, frowning at nothing.

"Didn't you sleep well?"

"Just fine." Another pause. Then, abruptly because Manon never softens anything: "I miss Bahorel already. Damn idiot."

That brings the day before back to exact retribution. Courfeyrac was trying not to think of any of it, but now he cannot avoid it. "Yes. I know. And Jehan." He's very quiet, just now, almost as quiet as Prouvaire would have been.

Manon nods, silently, jerking at the comb again. Another pause. "René."

"Yes?" He turns to look at her.

"Oh, damn." Manon throws down the comb, and rakes both hands into her hair for a moment. "Damn, damn, damn."

Courfeyrac stands and walks over to her in order to put an arm around her shoulders. "I know it's hard, chérie. I'm sorry it had to happen at all."

Manon half turns to twine her arms about his neck, resting her head on his shoulder. "I know." And, on a sudden intaken breath: "René, I--"

Courfeyrac furrows his brow. "What?"

Manon tenses slightly. "--I --oh, damn. I'm having a baby, René."

Courfeyrac bellows, "You WHAT?!" as if his head isn't right by her ear, and there aren't people asleep a wall away.

Manon winces at the noise, but she was braced for this. Almost in the same breath, she retorts, "Well, I didn't do it by myself!"

From the next room there is a sleepy voice saying, "What on earth was that?"

Courfeyrac lets her go and mostly collapses onto the bed. "God, no. Not this. Not today."

Manon shouts at the door, "Nothing!" and then, in a marginally quieter tone at Courfeyrac, "I didn't exactly plan this! What do you think? Was I supposed to spring this in the middle of the barricade? They could still arrest you!"

"I know that!" He shakes his head. "Yesterday, all of that, and now, this! Did you have to tell me now? I'm not even awake yet." Courfeyrac gets a bit of a handle on his emotions, and stands to embrace her. "I love you. It's going to be all right. It just isn't, right now. But we'll figure it out."

The door opens. Enjolras, in disarray and rubbing his eyes with his hands, asks, "Did you stub your toe or something?"

Manon pounds once at Courfeyrac's shoulders and subsides against him. "I was trying--" And then the door opens. Oh, God. She mutters rather tiredly, "Good morning, Enjolras. Dear."

Enjolras, now that he can see that everything is, on the surface, all right, is content. "Good morning. Don't stub your toe, Courfeyrac." He closes the door and walks away.

Manon stares at the door. "He's a ... very ... strange ... boy."

Courfeyrac is not to be distracted from the issue at hand, even by Enjolras acting insane. "He doesn't matter. You matter." He looks at the floor, suddenly slightly shy. "I suppose this means you can't keep moving out when we fight."

An odd laugh escapes her. "And why not?" It's a slightly lame joke, but still.

"We wouldn't want to disturb the child, any more than he'll already be disturbed by having us as parents." That's a label he's never applied to himself before. He shudders. "God, I never thought I'd be a father."

Manon squeaks slightly, and giggles again. "Oh, my God." She leans against his shoulder, quaking slightly with laughter. A touch of hysteria, anyone? "God. René, I'm sorry. I didn't think this would happen."

"Neither did I!" For some reason, he finds this amusing, and chuckles at his own wit. "We should do something about it." He tousles her freshly brushed curls.

Manon looks up at him in sudden alarm. "Like what?"

Now that she's asked, he's having trouble saying it. "Well, you know, what people normally do if they're going to have children. Settle down. Maybe stand up in front of a priest and say a few words." He's trying to make light of it, but he feels strongly about this.

Manon stares. Slowly a crimson flush creeps over her face, but she doesn't look away. She blinks a few times in rapid succession, and then, very quietly, she says, "God, but I love you."

Courfeyrac has stopped teasing, for once. "As I love you." His eyebrows lift. "Will you, then?"

"Idiot," retorts Manon, very gently. "Did you think I wouldn't?"

"No." He kisses her tenderly to seal the bargain.

Combeferre heats up the tea Chantal made the night before and pours it into three cups. Grantaire was gone before anyone else woke. Courfeyrac and Manon slipped out after having some kind of confrontation, which they'd obviously resolved, because they left entwined. Enjolras had been awake, but not really, and was asleep again. Chantal was reading some book or other in her own room. A little tea might be just the thing to wake them up, and start this day, at least, on the right foot.

Presently Chantal emerges, a little more kempt than she's been for two days, and a little more awake than she was when Courfeyrac and Manon departed. "Morning."

Combeferre offers a cup of nice, warm tea. "Morning." He pauses, unsure of how to broach a difficult subject. "You look better." He winces. That wasn't it.

"I feel better," Chantal agrees, taking the cup. "Thank you." She glances up at him curiously. "Are you all right?"

Combeferre is not one to lie when asked a direct question, episodes with Mme. Enjolras notwithstanding. "No. I'm not. We have to talk."

Now that there's noise in the room, Enjolras wakes up. "I smell tea," he observes most astutely. Combeferre hands him a cup, then turns back to Chantal.

Chantal looks upset at his tone, and stares into her tea for a minute. "Morning, Marcelin."

Enjolras takes a sip of the tea. "Morning."

Combeferre pauses, then looks back at Enjolras. "You have to be part of the discussion, Marcelin." That doesn't sound particularly feasible. Marcelin is bedraggled, and his blue eyes are slightly hazy from sleep and too much excitement. Combeferre persists. "It concerns you, at least somewhat."

Chantal sits down on the edge of the bed, both hands curled around the tea cup, frowning.

Enjolras does his sleep-fogged best to straighten up. He takes another drink of tea and pushes his hair away from his forehead. "What is it?"

And now that they're both looking at him like that, he needs more confidence. Combeferre takes a few deep breaths, then, with his eyes firmly on the floor, asks, "When did you think it would be a good time for a marriage?"

Chantal turns crimson, and ducks her head over her tea.

Enjolras is very quiet, especially for him. "You don't have to marry anyone, Etienne. I told Chantal that. I just wanted to be sure she was safe. It's not my place to tell you to do anything of the sort."

"It's all right," mutters Chantal in half a voice, to either or both of them.

Combeferre shakes his head. "It's not 'all right.' We have to resolve this." He's resolved that they must come to a resolution. He asks Chantal, "Do you think it's a good idea?"

Chantal stares into her tea. "I don't mind," she says at last, rather gruffly.

Combeferre's tone becomes slightly harder. "That's not what I asked at all. Do you think it's a good idea?" he repeats, more slowly, then answers his own question. "Considering that I have no idea what we'd do, and, frankly, the idea frightens me, I don't think it is. If you feel that it is important," that is directed to both Marcelin and Chantal, "I am sure that, together, you could convince me to jump off a bridge, to say nothing of wedding someone whom I love." After this speech, he subsides, and looks at the floor again, as if it knows what's going on here.

Enjolras knows his own answer to this, but waits for Chantal.

Chantal's hands tremble a little. She is careful not to look at Marcelin. "Not if you don't want to," she says faintly.

Combeferre is tense right now, and getting irritated. It hardly shows in his voice, but he is. "Please, Chantal. Answer the question I asked."

Chantal puts the teacup down on the night table so violently that it splashes a little, and shouts at him, "I just did!"

Enjolras decides he's heard enough of this semantics battle. "I don't think it would be a good idea at all," he breaks in, at a lesser volume than Chantal, but with no less force behind the words. More quietly he adds, "Listen to yourselves. You sound like, well, like me. Arguing over the words, Etienne? Don't you see?"

Combeferre is still looking at the floor. "I see perfectly well." He looks sorrowfully at Chantal. "I don't want to hurt you, and I know that this must hurt. I'm sorry."

"I just," Chantal says faintly. "I just, I'm sorry." She looks up at him helplessly.

Enjolras, for a wonder, holds his peace.

Combeferre has at least one tear in his eyes. "You have to go home, Chantal. I will write to you whenever I can. I love you, but it's not the time, yet."

Chantal's fingers work at each other for a minute. "I know." She takes in a difficult breath. "I love you."

Combeferre sets his tea down on the table next to hers and embraces her. "I wish it had worked better," he protests into her hair.

"No one can say you didn't try," Enjolras puts in. He's drinking his tea and averting his eyes, but he's not displeased by this turn of events.

Chantal wraps her arms about him without further prompting. "'s not your fault."

"It feels like my fault." He buries his face in her hair and says nothing more for a long moment.

At length Chantal sighs, and pulls back enough to look up at him.

Enjolras watches this impassively. "When do you want to go, Chantal?"

"I don't know," she murmurs. Back to submissive.

Combeferre doesn't look away from her. "Perhaps you should write to your mother, so she would be ready."

Chantal sighs.

Thoughts of Maman motivate Enjolras. "Yes. We should. Soon, before she starts to think we were killed in that mess yesterday."

"I suppose so," Chantal says to the floor.

Combeferre adds, "Later is soon enough."

Chantal slowly looks over at her brother. She has gotten to know him rather better over the past six weeks, and he is not nearly the paragon she used to think he was. But he's still her brother, and he has been trying to take care of her; and she is exceedingly glad he's alive. She bites her lip, and holds out an arm to him.

Enjolras stands and embraces Chantal without reservation. "I will miss you."

Chantal buries her face in his shoulder. "I'll miss you too."

"I'll write to you, of course. And you'll have to come and visit -- with permission." He gives her a little squeeze, then lets her go.

Chantal makes a face at that. "If I can."

Enjolras smiles a little, and glances at Combeferre. "If you can't, we'll come and visit."

Combeferre agrees with that. "Of course we will."

Chantal nods a bit, and takes a deep breath. "Then that's all right." She hesitates, then lets them both go. "I should go... write a letter, I guess." And she slips through the door to the inner room.

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