It was an unbearably hot day. The usual stench from the street was overpowering. Enjolras had come to the Musain in a futile effort to find a cool place to work. His apartment had been like an oven. The cafe was only slightly cooler.
The cafe was almost empty. Joly and Combeferre were seated at one table pooring over medical books, and discussing communicable diseases. Enjolras was seated at another working on his latest pamphlet. Joly's mistress, Musichetta, was seated at a third table, alternating between reading a novel and telling Joly how board she was.
Aside from the heat, Enjolras found the atmosphere conducive to work. For once Grantaire wasn't there interrupting his thoughts with cynical comments. No one was inciting raucous laughter with bawdy tales. It was much easier to work without someone drunkenly praising the beauty of his words, and then mocking them.
Enjolras was enjoying the relative silence. His current essay was a scathing indictment of the monarchy's treatment of the working classes. It had run a bit long, so he was trying to edit his work while actively not missing Grantaire.
"Joly, you do not have smallpox," Combeferre said.
"Yes I do," Joly said. "I have all the symptoms. I should be quarantined. You might catch it."
"You don't have the pox," Musichetta said absently.
"First off," Combeferre said, "I had it as a child see?" He pointed to a pockmark on his cheek.
Combeferre had been lucky, Enjolras supposed. Not only had he survived, but it had left him relatively unscarred. Grantaire by contrast was completely covered in pockmarks.
Enjolras sighed. He was supposed to be working. Not wondering what Grantaire would look like if he'd never had the pox. Curse this heat. He wiped a sleeve across his forehead. It came away soaked.
Combeferre was explaining something about Joly not having smallpox. because of the absence of an eruption of raised pox.
Enjolras stuck out a paragraph on Loius XVI. It contained nothing but background information. Anyone reading his pamphlet would already know it.
Joly was now convinced he had another type of smallpox.
"Joly, if the pox stay flat, you die," Comberre said.
Enjolras looked at his papers, and groaned mentally. Without the Louis XVI paragraph his witty remarks about Marie Antoinette made no sense. Now he was faced with the unpleasant choice of recopying the paragraph, or striking his favorite part.
". . . always fatal," Combeferre said.
"That's what Grantaire had," Joly said.
The pen scratched across Enjolras's paper, and he upended his ink bottle. Grantaire had died? There had to a mistake. He rose from his chair. The room started to spin.
He tried to speak but all that came out was "Gran. . ." The air was too thick to breath.
There was a shuffle behind him. Oh God, he was never going to see those pockmarks or that smushed nose again.
"Enjolras?" Joly and Combeferre sounded very far away. The wine from the cafe smelled like Grantaire. It was overwhelming.
He'd made Grantaire leave their last meeting. He'd told him not to come back.
"Do something," he heard Musichetta snap. Everything went dark.