Theatre was the art of losing yourself and taking on a new soul.
Enjolras loved theatre and acting since he was a child. There was something so enthralling to him about taking on somebody else’s skin and becoming a whole new person with their own individual thoughts and perspectives.
Enjolras finds human beings fascinating, at awe with how complex they were and how each person to exist had their own vastly different thoughts and a whole new perspective to his own. It is such a wonderful experience to see the world from different eyes.
He isn’t comfortable in his own skin. He can never feel like he is good enough, he always feels like something is missing inside of him, he doesn’t feel at one with himself and like he’s detached from his own body, hovering over it and wondering how he’s supposed to get in and understand himself. Enjolras plays other characters so he can learn from them, hoping that he can begin to understand himself by understanding others. It’s a euphoric escape to be someone else and get away from himself for once. Enjolras is pretty tired of himself.
That being said as Enjolras pours his heart and soul into bringing these characters alive, in the process he neglects himself. Sometimes he forgets he’s real.
Enjolras blends away at his stage makeup tiredly, feeling exhaustion basically seeping into his bones. The lights fade in and out of his vision, he feels heavy, and too weak, and fevered. He sniffles, and continues to pat the concealer on top his darkly coloured under-eyes, trying to hide his true state beneath all this makeup.
His throat itches, and he turns away from his mirror and coughs violently into his shirt sleeve, tearing up as his chest aches from his chesty coughs, spluttering. He blindly grabs for a glass of water, and gulps the little that remains down hungrily. He groans, looking back to see his watery, red eyes and reddened nose.
He rolls his eyes at himself as he tries to carefully dab away at the wetness of his face, as not to ruin the makeup that’s already there, and nearly messes up the whole thing as he jumps when someone suddenly bursts through the door.
“Fuck!” Enjolras croaks, his voice raspy and all sorts of husky. He cringes, and clears his throat to fix his horrendous voice.
“Didn’t know Gabe was a heavy chain smoker,” Grantaire teases, a mug of tea and strepsils in his hands.
He’s a pain in the ass, but Grantaire is one of the reasons Enjolras wants to be comfortable with himself, because in this world, Grantaire is in it. It’s the only bad thing about theatre, because despite how amazing being in a different world is, Grantaire isn’t in it. That is a world Enjolras doesn’t want to live in, a world without his sunny, shining smile is already a little bit darker.
Enjolras rolls his eyes, opening his mouth to shoot back a snide remark when his nose is suddenly twitching and he’s turning away from Grantaire and retreating into the crook of his arm to sneeze twice.
Slightly embarrassed and not wanting Grantaire to worry about him, he clears his throat and bounces back, “Sorry, I’m just allergic to your bullshit, ‘Taire.”
Grantaire searches for a comeback, but he comes empty and he sighs in defeat, “Okay, that was a good one.”
Enjolras smirks in victory as Grantaire shuffles towards him and shoves the mug of tea into his hands, and presses a sweet little kiss on to Enjolras’s nose.
“You’re losing your voice, dear,” Grantaire frowns as Enjolras slowly takes sips of the hot tea mixed with lemon and honey. He lets out a small sigh of relief as the warm liquid soothes his throat a little.
“No I’m not,” Enjolras insists, although he’s not really sure if he’s trying to convince Grantaire or himself. He knows deep down it’s for himself, but Enjolras can’t let this bring him down, and all his friends.
The Les Amis have worked to the bone for this little off-broadway show. This show that spoke so beautifully about mental illnesses, and Enjolras was honoured with the opportunity to portray a personification of mental illness and perform to the best of his ability, and beyond that. He needed to be able to convey how it was like, to connect to other people through his performance so that they can begin to understand those with mental illnesses. Then he will be closer to helping create a kinder world.
Every show counted.
Each person in that crowd meant something, and if someone was out there and was touched by it, and felt a little less alone, or came out of it a kinder person, any sickness was worth pushing through. This was much bigger than him.
“Hm,” Grantaire huffs, clearly not believing a word he was saying.
“Don’t worry–"His words come out in a strangled noise that strains and pulls at the muscles in his throat. Enjolras turns away from his boyfriend and raises his elbow up to his face where he coughs harshly, the sounds resonating from his chest.
Grantaire frowns and leans in to rub his back and coax the coughs out of him, and when Enjolras finishes he’s exhausted. He leans back against his chair and wipes away at tears, chest heaving as he tries to catch his breath.
"That doesn’t sound too good,” Grantaire points out worriedly.
Enjolras opens his mouth to speak, but no sound comes out of his throat. There is only a light, raspy wheeze that escapes his mouth. His eyes widen, his blood running cold as he freezes in panic. He shakes slightly, his breathing picking up ever so slightly. He clears his throat aggressively.
Grantaire notices this, and he is just as alarmed and fearful as Enjolras but somehow he manages to keep a level head. He wraps his hands around Enjolras’s and intertwines his fingers with his, to keep Enjolras here with him and grounded. So he doesn’t float away.
“Enj, don’t panic. Have some more sips of this tea,”
Enjolras nods frantically and begins to drink more of the hot tea, and when he’s done he puts down the mug on his dresser. He clears his throat.
“Hi, is my voice back,” Enjolras croaks out, his voice is rough and husky but its there.
He clears his throat again, popping a strepsil into his mouth and lets out a shaky sigh, “That’s better, I guess.”
Grantaire looks a little more at ease at that, Enjolras’s voice is better then, with a rough edge to it.
There is a small silence that begins afterwards. It is calm, but suddenly Enjolras says quietly, sounding so small and afraid.
“I don’t want to mess this up.”
Grantaire softens, cupping Enjolras’s face and then presses a loving kiss against his cheek, “You won’t, baby. You never do.”
Enjolras manages a weak smile at him, “I love you.”
A blush dusts Grantaire’s face and a smitten smile spreads across it. They use the word sparingly, not rarely, but not excessively. It’s more special this way.
“I love you too,” Grantaire says softly, and then his radio is crackling to life, Bahorel’s voice calling Grantaire over.
Grantaire chuckles and confirms that he is coming, and looks back at Enjolras, “Bossuet probably fucked something up again. I’ve gotta go save their asses now–but good luck baby, drink up. You’re going to be okay.”
With that, Grantaire leaves the door and Enjolras is left staring at the door, unable to wipe the smile off his face.
“All cast members please report to Val Jean’s dressing room for a warm up in 10 minutes, you have 10 minutes,” He hears Feuilly say over the intercom.
Enjolras nods, letting out a small sigh before he finishes up his makeup and hair.
When Enjolras walks into Val Jean’s dressing room, everyone’s eyes widen and jaws drop like they’ve seen a ghost.
He smirks, and sings softly, “I’m alive I’m alive I am so alive~”
He clears his throat and smiles at them reassuringly, “’Im fine. My point is I’m not dead, because you’re all staring at me like I am.”
Marius shakes his head, “Your voice is as angelic as ever, it’s just..”
Eponine clears her throat, “You look like shit, E.”
Enjolras rolls his eyes and laughs, “Oh well, the show must go on, as they say.”
Fantine frowns and walks up to him, and before Enjolras can even decipher what she’s doing her hand is placed gently on his forehead. He tries to squirm away, but she’s strong.
“You’ve got quite a fever, sweetheart,” She says gently. She is just as motherly to him on stage as she is off stage. Hopefully, off stage he’s a slightly better person than Gabe.
“It’ll be fine,” Enjolras says coolly, but Marius is trying to secretly text someone. He raises an eyebrow at the younger boy, slightly amused as Marius seems so sure no one is noticing him.
“Pontmercy, what are you doing?” Enjolras sighs.
“..Uh…” He says awkwardly.
Combeferre bursts through the door shortly after, and crosses his arms, clearly not very happy.
Enjolras turns white, “..uh..”
Combeferre basically slaps his hand onto Enjolras’ forehead and his frown is further deepened, and a few various pills are being shoved into his palm, as well as some more tea.
Enjolras groans, “I am drowning in tea, Ferre, I–”
The way Combeferre is glaring at him shuts him up and he’s popping the pills into his mouth and downing them with the tea.
Enjolras coughs, and he thinks it’s just a single, one off thing but the next comes spilling out of him, and the next, and the next. He’s coughing and he can’t stop, and it stabs at his chest and at his lungs. He’s expelling so much he’s not taking anything in, he can’t breathe and his body needs to. He feels faint, his vision darkening as the coughs force their way out of his chest.
He feels weak and faint, trying to reach for a wall or anything so his body doesn’t collapse in on itself, but he one powerful cough sends him toppling over, his body light as it free falls.
But thankfully Valjean is quick and there’s a strong arm around his waist, supporting him, and lifting him back to ground. When Enjolras looks up from his feverish, blearily haze there is a soft, concerned gaze looking down on him.
“Are you sure you’re up to this, kiddo? You don’t have to if you’re not feeling well,” Jean says worriedly, as he balances Enjolras back on his feet.
Enjolras rubs at his nose, stifling two sneezes before he responds, “I’m fine. Tonight is important. I can’t miss it.”
Everyone in the room looks extremely concerned, but when Combeferre sighs, not pleased but approving, they all straighten up to start working on warmups. As he turns around to leave, he suddenly leans forward and gives Enjolras a hug, rubbing his back lovingly and ruffling his golden hair.
When Combeferre pulls away his gaze is kind and caring, “You’re going to be amazing, E. You always are, please take care of yourself out there. Gabe is cool, but so are you, okay? I feel like you forget that sometimes.”
Enjolras’s eyes prick with touched tears, and he bites his lip to stop himself from crying any more. He smiles weakly at him, letting out a shaky exhale, “Fuck off, Ferre, you’re ruining my makeup.”
Combeferre can only laugh at that and ruffle his hair, before turning to leave through the door. He can’t help but spare a glance at Enjolras worriedly, wishing and praying that he would be okay, and he leaves through the door.
“Are we all ready?” Javert asks.
Everyone nods in agreement, and Marius starts to play the piano as they all harmonise and warm up their voices.
Grantaire finishes his double checks on all of the sound tech, and he sighs in relief. He’s done all he could possibly do. All he can do now, is relax and hope to whatever higher being out there that everything goes well.
He keeps his headphones in his ears and picks up a small cup of tea and makes his way to the left wing, where Enjolras is waiting at his five minute call to start the show. Fantine is already on stage in the dark, curtains still close. Grantaire is not an actor, but he is still always so fascinated with how when an actor steps onto stage, they are immediately a different person.
Grantaire carefully makes his way past and finds himself in the wings, and he finds Enjolras standing in the wings. He looks tired, sick, worried.
He approaches him slowly, gently tapping him on the shoulder, “Hey baby.”
Enjolras whips around and smiled at him, but a chesty little cough escapes him. He clears his throat, and he’s shaking ever so slightly and Grantaire doesn’t know if he’s nervous or just feverish.
“Hi,” Enjolras croaks out quietly, he looks down at Grantaire’s hands and takes the small cup of tea from Grantaire and sips at it slowly. He looks a little more relieved.
“Better?” Grantaire says softly.
Enjolras nods lightly, and tiptoes to kiss Grantaire’s cheek. Grantaire thinks this is the cutest thing.
“I’m scared,” Enjolras admits, his voice low and shaky. He’s trembling slightly, his voice cracking with vulnerability. He looks a lot younger like this. It breaks Grantaire’s heart. Enjolras is rarely ever this vulnerable.
“I can’t mess this up, you know that there are–”
“Yeah, there are important people here tonight but you are going to kill it. I know you will, baby.”
Enjolras can only manage a weak smile.
“Mics are turning on,” He hears Bossuet through his headphones.
Grantaire nods, and whispers softly, “Mic is on, E.”
“Curtains are opening. You are going to be amazing, E. Remember that. Good luck, baby. And you are on stage in 1..2..”
Enjolras closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. When he opens his eyes the light in them is different, shifting. He steps onto stage and when the light hits his face he’s a new person.
Any trace of Enjolras is gone, he has somebody else’s skin on and everything is fine.
Grantaire never doubted that for one second.
Every hair on Grantaire’s body stands with excitement and adrenaline, a exhilarating buzz boiling in his blood as Enjolras’s powerful voice booms across the theatre. His belt is as strong as ever, his voice so wonderful and satisfying, like the cold side of your pillow that feels amazing in the dead of night.
Enjolras is Gabe. He is perfectly portraying this complex character, the perfect embodiment. He has become this character, the way he looks at things is completely different. There is so much detail and depth behind every step he takes. He plays this character with this fresh nuance, played so lovingly and obviously painstakingly crafted. There is so much depth he embodies, a chilling performance that leaves Grantaire moved. Grantaire is unbelievably proud, it swells in his heart.
The act is coming to a close, and Enjolras sings. He’s so angelic and lovely, the light shining and framing him perfectly. But it is so chilling and eerie, his gaze is intense and bone chilling. His voice is this beautiful lyrical tenor and his vibrato is clear and satisfying, his voice steady and melodic in this incredibly angelic way.
Then the act closes, the curtains falling and the audience roars with claps and screams, whistling. Grantaire can’t help but try and peek through to see, and he can see people standing up as they cheer.
Grantaire awaits his star by the wings, and the moment the curtain falls he’s transported back into this world. He’s Enjolras, and he’s so weak. So sick.
He staggers weakly offstage, looking so weary and unwell that the moment Grantaire is in reach he collapses into his arms with exhaustion.
“Enjolras!” He exclaims as his boyfriend falls into his arms. Grantaire steadies him with some strength and pulls him into his arms. The younger boy weakly buries his face into Grantaire’s chest. He coughs harshly and sharply, his face scrunched in pain as he coughs.
Frantically, he feels his forehead and gasps at the intense heat radiating off of it.
“Fuck, E!” Grantaire hisses worriedly.
“Courf! Over here!” Grantaire calls over, and once Courfeyrac can see them his eyes widen and he’s running towards them. With his help, they manage to get Enjolras back to his dressing room.
“I’m so stupid, I’m so stupid,” Enjolras hisses to himself in self loathing, tears pricking at his eyes.
“No you’re not, E,” Courfeyrac reassures softly, trying to mask the worry in his voice.
Combeferre arrived shortly after with a damp towel and drapes it over his forehead. He is clearly shaken, very nervous and frantic.
“I failed you all,” Enjolras whimpers.
“What?! No you didn’t!” Courfeyrac insists.
“I can still perform, I promise. Just one more hour. I can do this. I promise, please,” Enjolras begs tearfully, stopping as Grantaire helps him drink more tea. He pushes Grantaire away shortly, to hack and cough powerfully, tearing up. He clearly looks like he is in a lot pain, and the sound of his coughing is awfully chesty and congested. It sounds horrible.
No one wants Enjolras to do this, but they all know Enjolras would never forgive himself if he couldn’t. They don’t want to see him in such a state. Courfeyrac and Grantaire look over at Combeferre for answers.
Combeferre looks conflicted, staring at Enjolras for a long time and sighs exhaustedly, “He can do it. But Grantaire, once you two get home you have to extensively take care of him.”
Grantaire nods determinedly, “Of course.”
The bright smile Enjolras gives them is undeniably precious.
Combeferre and Courfeyrac leave them alone, to which Grantaire sighs fondly and helps Enjolras drink more tea.
“You are a mess.”
Enjolras grins feverishly, “Your mess, though.”
Grantaire chuckles, and kisses his forehead, “Unfortunately. You are going to give me an ulcer, one day, you know?”
Grantaire doesn’t understand it–he believes it’s some type of magic or sorcery or witchcraft, the like–but when Enjolras is back on stage his symptoms disappear completely. He is energised and alive again.
Enjolras is so good that Grantaire forgets that just a short while ago Enjolras was breaking down backstage, sick as a dog. On stage Enjolras is at the best state he’s ever been. The audience could never have guessed he was running a borderline dangerous fever and what surely could become a chest infection.
The show comes to a close, and one of the last songs is this extremely powerful and moving exchange between Val Jean and Enjolras. They are both talents, revelations, incredibly passionate. They are delivering a performance of a lifetime, pouring their hearts out to many. Grantaire can faintly hear soft sobbing from the audience. When they finish, the audience explodes into a series of claps, so touched and moved.
When the show closes, the entire theatre stands up and claps loudly. The theatre is exploding with cheering and whistling and clapping. Grantaire can’t hear anything but cheers. They can’t even start bowing because the cheering is lasting so long.
The small cast begins to bow, and Grantaire can’t help but start cheering too when Enjolras steps to the centre for his bows. He starts to tear up as the crowd goes wild for him.
When the curtains fall and the cast come out, they are bombarded by hugs by everyone backstage.
“You were amazing, ‘Jolras! You’ve brought our show to life,” Courfeyrac cries, tears steaming down his face as he hugs Enjolras.
“You killed it!” Combeferre says proudly as he joins in the hugs.
But when Enjolras starts coughing again, bent over by the waist. His powerful coughs take what is left of his energy and he starts to tip slightly, and he’s leaning forwards too much and Courfeyrac is swooping in to catch him. That is when when everyone remembers that Enjolras is sick and needs to go home.
“We should go home,” Grantaire steps in, approaching his boyfriend and taking him from Courfeyrac.
“You’re right. You’ll inform us on how he’s doing, right?” Combeferre asks anxiously.
“But Stage Door,” Enjolras says weakly.
“Oh my god, Enjolras. You are not in the state, everyone will understand. You need to go home,” Grantaire insists.
Enjolras becomes quiet and looks so miserable. Grantaire sighs and feels a bit guilty, helping him back to the car.
Enjolras sleeps the whole way back to their apartment. Grantaire’s glad, because Enjolras needs to recharge. Once he parks, he picks Enjolras up and starts to carry him up to the elevator. He finally makes it to their apartment, and immediately puts Enjolras down on their bed.
He is about to leave to get some supplies when Enjolras stirs and grabs for Grantaire’s arm.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras whimpers, his voice teary and obviously upset.
“Hey, baby, what’s up?” Grantaire coos as he sits at the edge of the bed to speak to him.
“I failed everyone, I did so badly, we’re going to get bad reviews and close early,” Enjolras chokes, a few tears beginning to spill from his eyes.
“What?! No! You were absolutely brilliant, baby. People were crying. Did you not see the standing fucking ovation at the end of the show? Fuck, there was one during your act closer! People loved it, Enjolras. Our message is getting out there thanks to you. So don’t you dare fucking tell me that you failed us. You’ve made us.”
Enjolras sniffled, inhaling sharply to sneeze harshly, then rubbing at his eye weakly, "I don’t believe you.”
Grantaire opens his mouth to bless him and to reassure him but his phone is beeping. Then again. And his phone is going crazy.
He pulls his phone out and quickly scans through the gibberish that is Courfeyrac’s recent texts, and when he scrolls to the original text his heart drops. Then it swells.
“Enjolras, do you want proof that you did not disappoint tonight?”
Enjolras only huffs.
“Enj, we’re going on Broadway.”
Enjolras eyes widen, and he starts crying again. He’s crying even more–but this time he’s happy. Enjolras forces himself up and throws himself over Grantaire and holds him close, hugging him tightly and continuing to cry. Grantaire presses a kiss onto the top of his head.
“We’re going on Broadway thanks to you, Enjolras. And I mean you. Not just the character you play. You. You made this all happen, and I know you aren’t always very happy with yourself and I hope this can help you start to see what I see in. I am so proud of you, and I love you so much.”
“It takes two, I thought one was enough, It’s not true, It takes two of us, You came through, when the journey was rough it took you..” Enjolras sings softly.
“It took two of us. It takes care. It takes patience and fear and despair. To change.” Grantaire sings back. He’s a bit awkward, a little offkey, but to Enjolras it couldn’t have been more perfect.