Their covert weekly meeting in the back room of the Café Musain is soon to be cut short by curfew. They could meet at the school, perhaps in a disused classroom, but Combeferre fears that there are too many eyes and ears at Beauxbatons, too many people to notice them slinking off and not enough dark corners in which to hide. Seventh years—sixth years, too, after exams have finished—are allowed into the nearby wizarding village on weekends, so they find themselves here week after week. As usual, Enjolras addresses the gathered students, while Grantaire sits near the back with his outstretched legs crossed on the table in front of him and his chair tipped back on two legs.
Enjolras is trying to get out his last few bits of new information when he notices Grantaire stirring, his chair falling back onto all four legs, his eyes locked on Enjolras. This is never a good sign, and tonight, with real muggle casualties near London and the clock ticking off the minutes until they all have to be back in their dormitories, Enjolras knows he has to hurry. He picks up the pace and even raises his voice a fraction, hoping to stave off interruption, at least until the walk back.
It’s too late.
“Why are we getting involved at all?” Grantaire muses, loud enough to be heard over the thrust of Enjolras’s report. “It’s not our problem. We’ve got literal and figurative distance from this whole thing, and you’re asking them to risk their lives?”
Every eye in the room is suddenly narrowed and fixed on him. In response, Grantaire crosses his arms over his chest and shrugs defiantly.
It’s Eponine who takes him on. “Because everyone in this room is committed to doing what’s right. If England falls to dark magic, then it’s only a matter of time before it spreads, and we all know it. I would think you of all people—”
She realises what she’s started to say half a second too late, and stops speaking abruptly, mid-sentence.
“Me of all people?” Grantaire scoffs, raising his eyebrows. “About this glorious equality you’re working towards, does that include half-bre—”
“Enough,” Enjolras says firmly, cutting him off as well. The handful of sixth years they’ve decided to trust and allow into their group look confused, glancing back and forth between Eponine, Grantaire, and Enjolras. The rest know Grantaire’s secret, but still Joly looks uncomfortable and Jehan concerned. “We’re all here because none of us is willing to look away and let it happen. They have a megalomaniac gaining a hell of a lot of traction, and you’ve all heard it—there are some in France who, even right now, think he has the right idea. No one here is comfortable with witches and wizards—let alone muggles and magical creatures—being stripped of their fundamental rights based on mad and archaic notions of blood purity.”
Grantaire, it seems, is in one of his moods. He’s got a clarity tonight that’s unusual for him, given his proclivities. His eyes are burning with some kind of passion, and he is unwilling to let it drop.
“Then why us? Students. More or less children. We’re eighteen years old. Why you?”
Enjolras, who won’t even turn eighteen until the summer holiday, can feel anger beginning to churn in his stomach. “Albus Dumbledore is taking students directly out of Hogwarts into the Order.”
In Britain, the resistance movement calls itself the Order of the Phoenix, but here they are smaller in number and less equipped to fight. They call themselves, simply, discreetly, les Amis. Grantaire’s point stands. None of them is older than eighteen. None of them has even graduated from Beauxbatons, though their exams are behind them.
“Well, why is he?” Grantaire persists. “Surely that’s its own kind of madness, to think that kids barely out of school have a chance against this kind of power, that they won’t be picked off one by one. That we won’t.”
Enjolras has always believed that if the odds are stacked against them, then the act of resistance is only more important. He doesn’t want to hear it. It’s all he can do to keep his voice even, as he bites out: “Dumbledore is recruiting out of school, because we can be certain that Voldemort—”
There is some nervous shuffling at the sound of this name. There are rumors of Taboos and other jinxes, even here, even among the Amis.
“Voldemort,” Enjolras repeats emphatically, “is recruiting directly out of school. We all know that Rosier has a Dark Mark. The threat is real, and it’s here.”
Evan Rosier, a fellow seventh year, and his small gang of purebloods are almost no longer bothering to hide their involvement with the dark arts. The crackling tension at the school is becoming palpable, and no one is unaware—least of all the people in this room, who have chosen to join the fight.
“So that’s what we’re trying for, then?” Grantaire seems almost feverish now, as though he can’t stop himself. “To be no better than Voldemort, fighting a war with children?”
Enjolras reaches his breaking point at last.
“Get out. Get out, then, if you don’t want to fight,” he hisses, not even pausing for Grantaire to leave, knowing in some corner of his mind that Grantaire won’t. “This is coming. Sooner rather than later. France will be swept up in this mania, and he will be murdering and taking wands—including yours. And if you weren’t always off your head on pain potions, maybe you’d know that.”
All of the tension instantly goes out of Grantaire. He drops his gaze and nods once. Most eyes around the room are widened in shock. Marius, one of the sixth years, looks positively frightened at this unexplained outburst from their normally steadfast leader. Enjolras has fallen silent.
None of the seventh years can recall a time when anyone has mentioned Grantaire’s unorthodox use of potions aloud, though they’re all aware of the problem. Grantaire is the first and only werewolf ever to be admitted to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. As such, he has a very specific system worked out with the school, and this system includes the regular availability of pain potions from the Matron. No one is sure, perhaps not even Grantaire himself, exactly when he started taking these potions to cover pain beyond the scope of the full moon. His friends could all say with certainty, though, that’s been years since he began self-medicating almost constantly, since he became subdued and unreachable, his eyes dull.
Combeferre gets to his feet, taking control in the wake of Enjolras’s outburst. He dismisses the meeting, citing the proximity of curfew, and ekes out a few final thoughts to smooth over the incident. The sixth years—and no one else—appear somewhat comforted.
They walk back, as usual, in small groups, so as not to attract attention. Grantaire pulls his cloak tightly around him and walks alone. When Courfeyrac hurries to catch up and attempts to sling a friendly arm around his shoulder, Grantaire brushes him off.
Enjolras and Combeferre walk side by side in silence as Courfeyrac falls back to join them.
“Maybe...” he begins when he reaches them, hesitating for a moment. “Maybe shouldn’t have said anything.”
All the anger has drained out of Enjolras, replaced by the first stirrings of guilt. It must show on his face, because Courfeyrac gives a trademark smile and hastens to add:
“It’s going to be fine. Just give him some time.”
When they reach their dormitory, the curtains are already drawn around Grantaire’s bed.