57. Open Door Policy

January, 1841

It is a slightly unusual Friday in that Enjolras has stayed home in order to concentrate on fine-tuning a case. He gave some sort of hurried excuse over breakfast and withdrew to his office, and did not emerge for lunch. It is now evening. The sun slants through the window in vermillion beams, illuminating dust motes and several open books on his desk while he works.

At around seven there's a tap on the door, and Grantaire enters quietly. "How goes it?"

Enjolras looks up and smiles at him. "I think it is finished." He closes two of the books, then pauses to mark his page in the third before standing and stretching. "God, my neck is so tired."

So Grantaire crosses the room to stand behind him, resting both hands on his shoulders. "Ah, you poor fellow."

Enjolras turns slightly to kiss him. "Oh, I am not."

Grantaire caresses his hair. "No? A very commendable attitude, m'sieur. Looking on the bright side."

"I try." Enjolras kisses his cheek for good measure. "I wonder where I learned it."

"Can't imagine." Another kiss lands. "Have you been at this damn thing all day?"

Enjolras glances at the clock. "I suppose I have." He embraces Grantaire. "From breakfast on. God, it's good to see you."

Grantaire drops a kiss to his temple. "And you, chéri. --Without a break?"

"None to speak of," Enjolras answers, letting his head fall on Grantaire's shoulder, if only to kiss his neck softly.

The soothing fingers pause by way of rebuke. "I keep telling you you work too damn hard."

"I know, yes, but sometimes it needs to be done." Another kiss. "Fortunately, I have you to help me relax."

Grantaire relents, returning the kiss firmly. "So you do. And God knows you keep me busy, don't you?"

"I should hope so." Enjolras unbuttons the collar of Grantaire's shirt. "If I didn't, I'd be most upset."

A soft sigh, and his fingers slip more purposefully through Enjolras's hair. "And we can't have that."

"As you say," Enjolras agrees, a teasing note in his voice. His hands drop lower. "Whose idea was it for men to wear shirts, waistcoats, and coats?" He takes half a step back and helps Grantaire take off the latter.

"Damned if I know." Grantaire half-smiles, tossing it over the back of a chair, and reaches for him to return the favor.

Enjolras discards his coat in like fashion. "Stifling and inconvenient." Thus, unstifled and in his convenient shirtsleeves, he kisses Grantaire again, one hand buried in his hair, the other on his lower back.

Grantaire kisses him back lingeringly, with one arm firmly about his waist. Fingers slip from his shoulder to loosen his still-fastened collar slowly.

Enjolras fumbles with Grantaire's belt buckle.

Grantaire takes in a breath, and slides a hand inside Enjolras's shirt, kissing him again intently.

Enjolras kisses him just as singlemindedly. After several moments, "We should find a -- wall or desk -- or something." This bit of sterling advice is delivered breathlessly, during the untucking of Grantaire's shirt.

"God yes," is all Grantaire can manage by way of reply, before his hands slip lower and his mouth finds the base of Enjolras's throat.

Enjolras blinks, trying unsuccessfully to clear his head, and tries to work out the familiar geography of the small study. After a minute's disrupted thought, while he does his level best to similiarly disrupt Grantaire, he takes a stumbling step toward the desk.

A bright soprano interrupts from just outside the open door, "Monsieur, dinner is --" and becomes a shriek of terror, followed by fleeing footsteps.

"Jesu Marie--" Grantaire disentangles himself abruptly but with difficulty, between panic and reluctance. "That was-- what's her name. Oh, Christ."

Enjolras is blushing from hairline to open collar as he tries to rearrange his clothing. "Damn. We should -- talk to her or something."

Grantaire rakes a hand through his hair, dazed. "Yes." He turns away slightly; the sight of Enjolras thus in disarray does nothing for his clarity of thought. After a moment he says, almost absently, "I'll take care of it."

"All right." Enjolras closes the last button on his vest, then moves back into Grantaire's line of sight to button his shirt solicitously. "You'd better not go looking debauched," he suggests with a smile, and kisses Grantaire's cheek.

Grantaire chuckles a bit, and returns the kiss. "Probably not. All right." He pauses to smooth Enjolras's hair, and then heads into the hallway.

Fabienne has not run too far away. She is sitting in the parlor, staring at the wall. The only sign of any particular disturbance is her handkerchief, which she has tied into knots and seems to be determined to knot further, except that it refuses to obey her.

Grantaire pauses in the doorway, upon finding her. Says her name, gently, so as not to startle her any further.

"You could've said," Fabienne replies, still looking at the wall. "They warned me about the sort of things that happen to young women who go off to become maids, you know. Horrible things. Stories about the one whose master loves her are a sou a dozen, sure, but not ones like this. You should have said."

He draws a slow breath. "Said what? What could we have said? How should we have said it, and you looking nervous to begin with?"

"I don't know." She glances down at her handkerchief and begins to unknot it. "At least you could close the door, m'sieur. I don't care -- you've both been kind -- but..." Fabienne shudders. "There are some things I don't need to know."

Grantaire leans back against the doorframe, pressing a hand to his eyes. "Yes. We could. I know. As a rule we have better sense between us."

"I should hope so." Fabienne takes a deep breath. "As I was going to say before you were so rudely interrupted, dinner's ready, m'sieur."

"Thank you," he returns with some irony and tolerable composure.

"You're welcome, of course." She stands and smoothes her skirt, tucking her handkerchief away again. "If you'd tell him."

"Of course." Grantaire straightens, not quite looking at her.

"And, m'sieur? Be careful." She shakes her head slightly as if trying to clear it and walks past him to go to the kitchen.

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