75. Night Begins To Gather


The morning routine commences as it usually does, the small household rising one by one to go about the day's business. All is as it should be, until from the direction of Grantaire's room there comes a high feminine shriek of panic.

Enjolras is in the hallway before the echoes fade, a few buttons still undone here and there. "What on earth is the matter, Felicia?"

The maid stands just inside the doorway, both hands pressed to her mouth, staring at the crumpled form of Grantaire, on the floor. She gropes behind her with one hand for the doorframe, to steady herself. "M'sieur--"

"Don't just stand there stammering, call a doctor!" This is the last bit of sense left in Enjolras's brain. He ends up on the floor in short order, aging knees notwithstanding, trying to wake Grantaire. "Don't do this to me, cher. Wake up."

Grantaire stirs awkwardly, with a harsh indrawn breath, not quite coming around. The movement, however, seems to break Felicia's paralysis, and she turns and bolts down the hallway.

This helps Enjolras somewhat. He stops half-holding his breath and breathes normally, though with a bit more of a catch than is his wont. "You're going to be all right," he says, with no evidence whatsoever. "Just hold on. The doctor will be here soon."

The eyes flicker open, wince shut, open again slowly. Focus, with an effort. "Marcelin?" Faintly.

"Thank God. What's wrong, cher? Did you fall?" This comes out in a rush the first time. Enjolras stops himself, and says the latter two parts again, more slowly.

Grantaire blinks a few times, seeming dazed. "Damned if I know." His hand seeks Enjolras', childlike. "I just... hell."

Enjolras takes his hand tightly. "Does anything hurt?"

Grantaire glances away. It might be evasion, but then, it might just as easily be confusion. "Don't know."

Felicia reappears in the doorway, anxious. She swallows a couple of times, then clears her throat tentatively.

"Where is the doctor?" Enjolras asks at the first noise he hears.

Grantaire mutters something profane, which is probably just as well drowned out by Felicia's nervous, "I've sent for him, m'sieur. I... Is there something I can do, m'sieur?"

"I don't know, is there?" Enjolras is in no mood for any sort of incompetent help. "Damn it, why didn't I study medicine?"

Grantaire manages a wavering half-grin. "Get your hands dirty, 's why."

Felicia knots her fingers anxiously in her skirt; then ducks her head and edges out again.

"I was such an idiot," Enjolras says, which is not an answer to anything. "I'm sorry. Just -- I don't know. I wish I could help."

"'s all right." Amazingly, his tone is soothing, though still faint. "Don't fret."

"That's my job, isn't it? It's the only thing I can do." Enjolras squeezes his hand. "I have to worry."

Grantaire grins again, more convincingly, and makes an abortive attempt to sit up. "...off this damn' floor," irritably.

Enjolras frowns. "Are you sure it's a good idea?" he asks, and scowls all the more when the attempt fails. "I'll bring you a blanket if you're cold."

"No, no..." Grantaire shifts, still holding his hand. "'sallright, just..."

"What?" Now that the adrenaline is wearing off somewhat, Enjolras has become overly solicitous.

Just hold me. But Grantaire has not yet sunk to that sort of sentiment. He shakes his head slightly, drawing a slow, careful breath. "Sorry I... scared you."

"So am I." Enjolras's thumb rubs across the back of Grantaire's hand in an effort to be comforting. "Just relax, cher. The doctor will be here soon."

"Damn the doctor," mutters Grantaire, "that's all I need," though it lacks force.

"I hope so. I wouldn't know what else to do."

Grantaire is quiet, then, until Felicia returns with the doctor in tow.

Enjolras regretfully lets go of Grantaire's hand and stands, slowly, to get out of the way.

The doctor is relatively young; that is, well out of college, but not over forty. He kneels briskly in the same spot Enjolras was sitting, hardly sparing a glance for him. All of his attentions are concentrated on the patient. "What seems to be the trouble, Monsieur?"

It is somehow even less dignified to be lying on the floor alone than it is to be there with someone holding your hand. Grantaire, therefore, makes another effort to sit up, only to be caught by a wave of dizziness. He swears under his breath; then, truculently, "Thought that's what they asked you... here to find out. Minding my own business, then all of a sudden here I am."

The doctor takes out his pocketwatch and places two fingers against Grantaire's wrist. "I'm going to ask you to breathe as normally as you can."

Grantaire shoots a glare at poor Felicia, who is still hovering in the doorway in mingled concern and curiosity, until she departs, and does as he's told.

Enjolras, in an effort to be out of the way, takes a seat on the bed and watches silently. The doctor finishes checking Grantaire's pulse and begins prodding at his left fingers. "Can you feel this?"

"Yes." It is said evenly, but there is the sense that he is simply answering what he thinks will give the most normal impression.

The doctor looks at Grantaire, slightly skeptical. "Does anything feel wrong, m'sieur?"

"Lightheaded, that's all." Grantaire sits up a little, more successfully this time. A careful observer would note a certain stubborn set to his jaw.

The doctor nods. With the time-honored method of a wrist to the forehead, he scientifically calculates Grantaire's temperature. "I don't think you're feverish. More cold."

Grantaire mutters, "Take your word for it."

Enjolras stops observing silently to ask, "What's wrong, then?"

The doctor does not quite shrug. "It's difficult to make any sort of diagnosis with the amount of information I have, monsieur."

Grantaire is silent, regarding the carpet.

Enjolras's eyebrows lift. "You have no idea, do you?" he asks mildly.

That particular way of phrasing it is probably forbidden somewhere in the Hippocratic Oath. "Well," the doctor begins, trying to cloud the issue, "I think it would be easier to discern the problem if the patient were more communicative." He gives Grantaire a rather impatient look.

"Meaning what?" puts in the patient very dryly indeed.

"If you don't tell me what's wrong, I can't fix it." The doctor begins taking a few implements out of his bag. "Any doctor has trouble trying to find elusive ailments. I do not live inside your body, Monsieur."

Enjolras says something quite under his breath that probably has something to do with 'damned stubborn fool.'

Grantaire flashes what's very nearly his usual sardonic grin. "For which you should be grateful." He sits up a little further, cautiously.

"I imagine so. But since it is my job to assist you, I would truly like to know what's wrong." The doctor does not sound particularly sincere about this. "I don't expect you to know how this happened, but I cannot think of any particular disorder that would cause lightheadedness alone."

"If you don't know what's going on, you might as well leave," Enjolras says acidly. "I can ask him what hurts just as well as you."

Grantaire, recovered somewhat, begins climbing to his feet. More mildly, "If the man doesn't know, Marcelin, he doesn't know. Told you I was all right..."

The doctor stands. "If you do not want me here, Monsieur, I assure you I feel no compulsion to stay." Without waiting for a further response, he leaves, slamming the door behind him.

Grantaire steadies himself on the back of the chair. "Touchy young bastard," he sighs.

"How could you be all right and be lying on the floor, cher?" Marcelin asks in a stricken tone, totally at odds with his asperity of moments before.

"Passing trouble." One hand comes up to tug at his collar, absent-mindedly. "I'm just sorry to have worried you."

"'Passing trouble'?" This phrase, however offhand, does not reassure Enjolras. "You, God, I know you're not doing this on purpose, I'm not angry with you. I'm angry with the worthless doctor."

Grantaire does innocent confusion oh, so well. "Well, he can't very well tell you what's the matter if there isn't anything, can he? No need to be hard on him."

Enjolras, because there is no doctor to rail at, and there is nothing to be done, relents. "I suppose so. I only hope you're right, and you're all right, cher."

Grantaire shakes his head, and comes over to put an arm about his shoulders. "Don't worry, love. You worry too damned much."

"Of course I do. I have you to worry me." This is a familiar refrain, and even loving.

Grantaire sits down on the edge of the bed, and embraces him, wordlessly.

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