Enjolras only notices Grantaire is missing when he's abandoned Combeferre to Éponine's less-than-tender mercies for five minutes while he puts on his costume, and he knows immediately where he must have gone. He knows Grantaire well enough by now to know how exactly he likes to know the stages he dances on, the precise dimensions, every creak of the floor and irregularity in the grain of the wood.
He'll want to know it even more for the Met.
Enjolras also knows Grantaire well enough by now to know that he's not going to be the most helpful person to bring him back. That stings, but not too much—he and Grantaire are so much to each other, but they can't, don't want to be, everything.
Floréal, though, will be able to help, and she's in the corner, already costumed and made up, ahead of the rest of them, texting with someone. From what he's gathered, she's fighting with her husband about his poorly-timed business trip, and she would probably appreciate rescue as much as Grantaire will, so he gathers himself and goes over to her. “Have you seen Grantaire?”
After ten years, he still gets the impression that Floréal doesn't like him much. He doesn't know if it's left over bad feeling from hurting Grantaire when they were in college and Enjolras didn't know him well enough to love him or something else, but it still makes her level him an unimpressed look. “You know where he is. Was that supposed to be a subtle attempt to ask me to go get him?”
“It was a prelude to the question,” he admits. There's no benefit in lying about it. “Combeferre is going to notice that his choreographer is missing eventually, and the Met staff would probably rather have performers off the stage at this point. I know he hates opening nights, but it's going to be fine.”
“Yeah.” She sighs and finally unbends a little, gives him a nod. “I'll check on him, or he'll practice too hard and fuck up his knee again.”
Enjolras has to try hard not to flinch at the thought of that, and Floréal seems to feel much the same. Even if they aren't friends, he'll always appreciate that she loves R just as much as he does, in her own way. “Thank you. I think he'd rather see you, for the moment.”
“Probably, but once I'm finished telling him he's being an asshole I'll surrender him to you, don't worry.”
With that, Floréal grabs a wrap and heads out of the dressing room, leaving Enjolras at loose ends. Combeferre is straightening Éponine's costume now, movements a little too sharp for him to be as calm as he's trying to pretend he is, and Joly and Musichetta are leaning over a tablet screen talking to their daughters while Bossuet tries to fix his makeup.
Courfeyrac is the one to approach him, after a minute, leaving Cosette limbering her voice up in a corner. He leans against Enjolras's shoulder and looks at him sideways. “Nervous?”
“Not really.” Enjolras doesn't shrug, because he doesn't want to dislodge Courfeyrac, but he hopes he gets the impression of a shrug across nonetheless. Stage fright has only rarely been a problem, and while this is his first time singing a lead on the Met stage, it isn't his first time at all. “Just waiting for R. He is.”
“Probably enough for both of you,” Courfeyrac agrees. “It's sort of incredible to believe we're doing this just ten years on, bringing Combeferre's opera to the world.”
“And he has two more in various stages of finished, when he isn't busy writing everything else,” says Enjolras, as though Courfeyrac doesn't know. “Is Marius coming tonight?”
“He's sitting with Cosette's parents, we got a babysitter for the night so Joan can come to our first matinee instead of staying up past her bedtime. I had a text from Feuilly, too, Jehan's flight got bumped up so he's making it in time as well.”
“It's really going to be everyone, then.” Jehan and Feuilly weren't in the orchestra this time around, Marius wasn't playing for rehearsals, Bahorel isn't playing Bottom, and Enjolras knows it can't be all the same, but it's right that they're going to be there in the audience anyway, with family and friends, watching it come together on the most famous stage in the country.
“As it should be,” Courfeyrac agrees, and frowns over in Combeferre's direction, since Éponine's been drawn away by one of the extras, who's probably telling her how much she loves her music and making Éponine hellishly uncomfortable. She may be the one of them who's the most famous, well-known outside the world of opera, but she doesn't like dealing with the fame very much, and she's only here for opening night, for her partner's sake.
“Go deal with him,” says Enjolras, prodding Courfeyrac away. “He probably needs you more. I'm going to wait on Grantaire.”
It's only five minutes before Grantaire shows up on Floréal's heels, in his costume but not made up yet, looking tired, sheened over with a bit of sweat, but not sore, from what Enjolras can tell. “Thank you, Floréal,” he says when they come over, and she just nods and pushes Grantaire over until Enjolras can take his arm. “Are you okay?” Enjolras asks Grantaire, and Floréal nods at him before fading away into the background, going back to her texting.
“Is your knee bothering you?”
“Enjolras, it is not my knee. My knee is going to last me through a season at the Met, and then I'm going to retire in a blaze of glory and choreograph everything interesting I can get my hands on, maybe do some teaching. That's always been the plan.” It hasn't, and they both know it, Grantaire would have performed until he turned sixty if it weren't for the lingering pain in his knee, but Enjolras isn't going to press that. It's a bruise he doesn't have the right to bring up. “I'm fine,” he continues, softer. “Just finding it a little surreal that you and I are sharing a professional stage for the first time since college, and that we're all sitting here in the dressing room at the Met.”
“Grantaire.” Enjolras rarely has the words that help Grantaire, when he's like this, but he can only do his best, and Grantaire usually forgives him whatever verbal missteps he makes. “You have danced for higher stakes than this. You danced a Nutcracker less than three months after an injury that should have ended your career, you have performed all over the world, you choreographed a show piece for the Royal Ballet and countless ones for small companies. This shouldn't faze you at all.”
“Oh, well, now that I know I shouldn't be nervous, I'll be fine.” There's an edge in that, and Enjolras opens his mouth to apologize, but a second later, Grantaire relaxes and lets himself lean into Enjolras's touch. “It isn't the Met, it's the performers. I've danced for higher stakes for me, yes, but this is the Met premiere for my partner and pretty much all my dearest friends. You can forgive me for not wanting to fuck it up.”
“Grantaire.” Enjolras can't help a little impatience creeping into his tone, but he takes Grantaire's hands to make up for it. “You haven't let me down before. Haven't let us down. Combeferre is worried enough for all of us, but it never even cross his mind to be worried about you, because you're amazing. All you have to do is go out and do what you do best.”
“Fuck you,” says Grantaire, but it's tired and fond more than anything else, and he squeezes Enjolras's hands. “I just want this to be good. For everyone.”
“It's going to be. I can promise you that.” They know this show, after so long, know it from beginning to end, every note and word and step of it. “I love you, and you're going to be great. Break a leg.” Even though saying that stopped being fun, Grantaire still likes to hear it.
After a second, Grantaire shakes his head, dismissing whatever response he was going to make to that initially. “Come on, help me with my makeup and I'll fix your eyeliner, which is a mess, and then we'll get on Skype and entertain the twins for a few minutes before Musichetta makes me hang up. Okay?”
“Okay,” says Enjolras, since there isn't much other response he can make. It's a busy bustle, here in the Met changing room, but he doesn't mind carving a few quiet moments out, when it makes Grantaire settle a little and smile over his shoulder as he leads the way to the makeup table.
Grantaire still dances as beautifully as ever, when he enters for their duet. He still drops down as lightly from the level of the platform, even if sometimes it made him wince during rehearsal. It's still the same rocking five-four beat from the orchestra, if a little faster than Combeferre used to take it. It's still Grantaire making his beautiful, precise circles around Enjolras, only now Enjolras knows how to partner him better, after years of trying to work out their own special forms of duet. He hasn't asked Grantaire to do it much since his injury, to dance while he sings, but here on stage it's amazing how much he's missed it, reaching out and finding Grantaire at exactly the right place in the circle, there to take his hand and trust his balance.
The voices, the music, even the air, all echoes differently in the Met, but the audience is pleasantly full for the greatest opera composer of the modern age, two of the best-known dancers in the world, and several world-renowned singers. They all applaud for Grantaire and Enjolras when their duet is over, Grantaire bent on one knee instead of both this time, offering his fealty, and Enjolras lets himself catch his breath for one second before he leaves, remembering the first performance of the show and just what that meant.
The rest of the show passes quickly as performances always seem to, no matter the venue. Enjolras sings his best, every note for Combeferre, for Grantaire, for Musichetta, for all the rest of them, until it's time for his exit. That's the most different, really: he isn't helped by Grantaire, this time. The director has ideas about Puck's loyalties, and in this production, they don't lie with Oberon in the end, exiled with him though he may be. Grantaire lags behind, dancing one last set of steps with Floréal, a fragile moment, before he leaves.
Enjolras catches him as he leaves the stage just as he did the first time, kissing him hard enough that any of the makeup they haven't sweated off must be smudged. “Beautiful,” he whispers, because he can't help it, and doesn't know if he means the music, the show, or Grantaire himself. “The Met, Grantaire. We were amazing.”
One of the stage techs gives them a disapproving look, so they the rest of the show from the wings, the finale and Musichetta's soaring soprano over the last triumphant chords, everything pausing before the roar of the applause.
There aren't many curtain calls—it's a new show, by a new composer, people won't applaud for that as they do for Mozart and Verdi—but Enjolras takes his bow, and delights in the surge of applause when Grantaire takes his, and he joins in the cries of “Author!” when someone in the audience, probably Bahorel, starts them, waiting for Combeferre to come out on the stage, dashing away sweat or tears from his cheeks, chest heaving like he's been the one singing or dancing all night.
Enjolras holds Grantaire's hand all through the bows.
They find a restaurant open late and stay there, sharing plates of appetizers, catching up with Jehan, who's doing a composing fellowship in Milan, and Éponine, who's leaving again for her tour in the afternoon. Most of them are centered in New York these days, at least when they can be, but it's good to have an excuse for all of them to be together, to share pictures and laughter and stories.
It's three before he finds himself in a cab with Grantaire, pleasantly exhausted but nowhere near tired enough to sleep. Grantaire is smiling at him, leaning his head against the cab window, wearing an expression Enjolras has come to know well, one of his favorites, the one that he's learned means that Grantaire is truly, honestly, uncomplicatedly happy. It's disappointingly rare, but all the more precious for that. “Just think,” says Grantaire, closing his eyes, “we have a whole season of doing that. We can finally give the show the run it was due.”
“I'm looking forward to it. I think Combeferre is too, though he says he would be too embarrassed to attend every performance.”
“He needs to quit being embarrassed, every arts journalist in the world is in love with him.” Grantaire holds out his hand, and Enjolras takes it, an ingrained instinct by now. “I missed dancing with you.”
On the outside, it's a silly thing to say. They've been doing it in rehearsals, after all. But Grantaire doesn't mean rehearsals, or probably even performances. He means them, and even if he hadn't been resolved already, after earlier, he would be now that Grantaire is admitting it. “Me too,” he finally says. “We'll do it more often. Combeferre is writing a song cycle for tenor, a commission, he wants to test it out. You can help me.”
“He's writing for tenors who aren't you? The traitor.” Grantaire sounds sleepy and happy more than offended on Enjolras's behalf.
“He has to make money somehow, he says.” Enjolras glances out the window, still not nearly as tired as Grantaire. Most times when they're in the same city, he tips R into bed as soon as he can, to bring himself back to earth a little, but that may not be an option tonight.
“I would think he can pick and choose, at this point. Is he still talking about doing the Eric Whitacre route, starting a choir?”
“Maybe. Éponine says she'd love to record something with a choir in the background, that might be an impetus.” Enjolras squeezes Grantaire's hand. “I might join, if he does, I don't think he would turn me down.”
“You're such a soloist, you would be a nightmare to conduct in a choir,” says Grantaire, but he sounds a little more awake. “Also, could he let you in when you're jetting across the world for your own concerts all the time?”
“I thought I might cut down on the offers I take, when you start doing the same. It was never my intention to be a performer for this long, at least not on this scale.”
“Please, you're a performer in your soul. So am I, for that matter.” Grantaire sits up, and he looks serious, but not unhappy, which is the only thing keeping Enjolras from feeling guilty for ruining the glow of the moment. “Don't do anything just because I am.”
“I'm not. I can be as much a performer singing in Combeferre's choir, if it comes to that.”
“We'll talk about it later,” says Grantaire, and uses their joined hands to pull Enjolras closer. The cabbie, who was probably expecting his fare to be much more obnoxious, only snorts a little in the front seat, turning up the radio, as Grantaire kisses him slowly, for just a few seconds, before pulling away. “Okay?”
“Fine.” Enjolras doesn't much care to argue about the future right now anyway, not with Grantaire looking awake again and still so quietly pleased about a performance well done. He never says out loud that he's done a good job no matter what friends and critics say, but Enjolras has come to know the nights when he thinks he's done particularly well, how it sits for him. “We're almost home. Ready for bed?”
Grantaire gives him a sideways look. “That was subtle.”
“I'm asking if you're tired, R.”
“Not too tired.”
With Grantaire grinning at him, just short of a leer, Enjolras feels like he should be pretending to be prim, or insisting on icing Grantaire's knee before they get in bed, but instead he just smiles back. “Well, then,” he says, and only doesn't lean in because the cabbie has a sudden coughing fit.
Enjolras starts, feeling stupidly caught-out even though he was just looking at their wall of pictures instead of at anything illicit or embarrassing. It's full of their friends, and their friends' children, but the picture he's lingering over tonight is one that Montparnasse snapped sometime during the rehearsals for Midwinter the first time around, which Éponine found and sent them a few years ago. Grantaire is laughing, sitting up on one of the levels listening to something Combeferre is saying below, and Enjolras is a few steps below, looking up at Grantaire, his face hidden by his hair. He has no idea what his expression is, how late into rehearsals it is. He thinks by the state of the set that it must be late enough that Enjolras is smiling at him, staring, having trouble looking away from him laughing, but he can't be sure.
“I'm coming,” he says, too late.
Grantaire must know what picture he was looking at, because he's smiling again. “It's better now. The show, everything. I miss it sometimes, but it's better now. I'm not worried about us this time, it makes a difference.”
Enjolras abandons the picture to put his arms around Grantaire's neck and kiss him. “I think I love you more every time we do a duet,” he says when they pull apart, knowing and caring very little that it sounds overdramatic, that Grantaire will tease him for it later.
Even if the teasing comes, he appreciates it now, from the way his face goes soft and his hand tightens in Enjolras's hair. “Come on,” he says, a catch in his voice, “come to bed. I'm pretty sure I'm contractually obligated to fuck you, after that.”
“It was right there in the vows,” Enjolras agrees, letting himself be pulled, shutting the bedroom door behind them, and kisses Grantaire again, with all the love of the ten years he can't believe they've spent together, and the decades more he hopes to have.
First, though, a season of the opera he's been part of since its very inception, a whole season of working with his friends, staying in the city he calls his home, and before that, a night with Grantaire. That's more than enough to look forward to for now.