56. Ten Days

The house is peculiarly quiet, with the head of the household away in the provinces. It has only grown quieter over the past ten days, as the remaining occupant has slipped deeper into melancholy, and the evening of the tenth day finds him alone in the library, locked in a profound silence.

The silence that has fallen over the house is broken late in the evening of the tenth day when the missing member of the household returns. He does not wake the maid, for it is late and he has a key. Instead, he slips in unannounced, and goes to find out why there is still a light burning at this hour.

Grantaire sits in the shadows away from the lamplight and from the window, half-sprawled in the chair, in a vaguely familiar attitude. He looks up sharply as the door opens, and blinks with the expression of a drowning man dragged to the surface. "Marcelin." It's very faintly slurred.

Enjolras stops in the doorway, one hand on the frame. For a second, he does not move. Then, he begins to frown. "What are you doing?" he asks in a very cold voice, without so much as a 'hello.'

Grantaire blinks again at the tone, and hesitates, the sudden light in his face dulling. "Nothing."

"Which is why you're hiding in the library." Enjolras takes a step in and looks at the table. "Drinking." The more he talks, the less happy he sounds.

It dawns. Grantaire's gaze falls away. "Wasn't. Much." The denial has the tone of defeat, rather than pleading.

Enjolras's lips press together. "I cannot believe that after eight years you would go and waste your time like this, again. I thought you had learned. I thought I had helped you." He pauses, then, "I can see that I was wrong."

Grantaire catches in a breath as though he'd been struck. "God--" He sits up, trembling. "You have. It's not-- I-- hellfire, Marcelin!"

"'Hellfire?'" Enjolras asks, in the same cold voice. "What is that supposed to mean? Yes, I helped you, but only by threatening you?" The idea hurts. He scowls. "Didn't you understand?"

Grantaire glances up at him, startled, and blinks a few times, and relaxes a bit. "'s not like that." He is placating now, almost coaxing. "'s not what I meant, you know that." A hand reaches out to catch at Enjolras' sleeve. "Come on, now, Apollo. Have pity on a poor mortal who loves you."

Enjolras moves his arm out of Grantaire's reach, half out of instinct and half from irritation. "You're far more drunk than you think you are," he informs Grantaire, in a voice that sounds quite a bit like his younger self. "I am not Apollo, as you know quite well. Do not address me as such. It will earn you no pity, no sympathy, and no listening. As for listening in general, I may not until I know I can trust you again." He looks at the library door.

Grantaire pales. He does not move for an instant; then he lets his hand fall. In a flippant tone that belies his expression, he inquires, "How will you know if you don't listen?"

Enjolras glares at him, then turns to leave the library. Before he is five steps away, he turns back. "I hope that you can show me instead of telling me, because you told me you would behave this time, and I see nothing of the sort."

A minute of silence; then, incredibly, Grantaire laughs. Bitter, yes, and mostly without humor. "Oh, to be sure. If the dog doesn't behave, put him out." He pushes to his feet, not quite steadily. "Rub his nose in it. Don't I just know. Thank you, m'sieur, I'll let myself out."

That provokes a moment of stunned silence. When Enjolras speaks again, he is much quieter. "If you want to go, I won't stop you." He continues, sounding forlorn. "You were never, ever my pet. I don't know why you feel that way, but I can understand your not wanting to do it anymore."

Grantaire pauses, staring at him, and the brief flare of indignation fades. "No, I... no." He looks away, running a hand through his hair. "I didn't..."

"You meant something, or you wouldn't have said it." Enjolras glares at the wall, with a little bit of a tremble somewhere in his eyes. "I don't want to make you unhappy."

"Oh, God." Grantaire braces himself against a bookcase, stricken. "'s not that, Marcelin... 's not like that." He looks up cloudily, fumbling for words. What he comes out with is: "I missed you."

"Do you always do this when I'm gone, and I never knew because I've never been early before?" Enjolras realizes that this question is too harsh, and tries to temper it by saying, "I missed you, too."

"No," is the instant protest. "I wouldn't do that, I just, I..." He falters, trails off, though less hopelessly than before.

Enjolras sighs deeply. "You did, that's all." His expression softens, and he looks at Grantaire again. "I forgive you, cher, if you want to be forgiven. I was angry. I thought I could trust you."

The blurred eyes blur further, and he has to look away. "I know," roughly. "'m sorry, that's all."

"I am sorry, too," Enjolras says. "Sorry and a little disappointed."

Grantaire is silent, staring at the floor.

"Do you know how you can fix this?" Enjolras asks, quietly and almost calmly.

Grantaire takes in a breath, and looks up again, meeting his eyes reasonably steadily.

"I promised you that when you were stupid, I would be stupid with you. Did you drink the whole bottle?"

Grantaire blinks at him. Then, "Oh, good God..."

Enjolras looks at him levelly. "I am not joking."

"No, you wouldn't, would you." Grantaire scrubs a hand over his face.

"Right now? No." Enjolras looks at the table. "Well?"

Grantaire sighs. "No, I didn't."

"Then let me."

Grantaire blinks slowly. "What?"

Enjolras's eyebrows lift. "Let me share your dissolution."

Grantaire rakes his hair back again. "Can hardly stop you, can I?" dourly.

Enjolras half-smiles, and shakes his head. "No, I don't think that would be a good idea."

Grantaire just gazes at him for a minute, blinking. "...You've still got your coat on," he observes.

Enjolras takes it off. "I love you, too, cher."

Grantaire smiles a little, crookedly, and looks down.

Enjolras puts a hand on his shoulder and kisses his cheek.

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