The next meeting Grantaire attends is three days later. He arrives with the finely lined illustration in hand, and passes it to Enjolras as he comes inside. "Here," he says gruffly, shedding the layers he'd swaddled himself in to brave the chilly afternoon. "It's finished."
He'd painted it with a thin brush in between hangovers and tried his best to capture the cool blue color of his scales; a few times he compared hue to the patches on his hips, and laughed at the ridiculousness of this entire thing.
He doesn't notice Enjolras' face when he first looks at it; he's shocked and momentarily struck silent, staring at the masterpiece that had been so crudely shoved at him. Grantaire is busy getting settled in his favorite chair, the one closest to the fireplace.
"Grantaire," he says quietly, and the alcoholic looks up. "This is... amazing."
Grantaire snorts and says, "It's really not that fancy," but Enjolras proceeds to make all the other Amis look at it and then everybody is cooing over how fantastic it is. Grantaire sets his chin in his palm and watches them, trying not to smile too broadly or feel too warm (it's been so long since he's had friends that this feeling is almost unfamiliar to him now).
"Why did you choose to make his eyes blue?" Courfeyrac asks curiously, intently studying the picture. "Didn't it say they were black in the book?"
"Oh, they're blue."
Grantaire says it so flippantly that he doesn't even catch onto the usage of the present tense, and quickly feigns an easy smile. "I mean, I like to think they were blue. So, you know, they looked good with his scales or whatever."
Everyone laughs and Grantaire smiles, relieved he got away with it. Enjolras is the only one who notices how similar Alsius' eyes are to Grantaire's and for a reason he can't name, keeps this observation to himself.
The first time it happens, it seems to surprise them both.
Enjolras catches Grantaire's wrist on his way out during the third week, and when Grantaire turns to see what he wants they kiss. It's sudden but not strange, and Enjolras tastes of the blueberries he'd spent the afternoon eating.
When they break apart he's smiling and flushed, and passes Grantaire with a brisk, "Sorry about that."
Grantaire is too thunderstruck to do much more than stare.
They don't talk about it the next meeting, but Grantaire keeps staring at Enjolras' mouth and he's not listening very well to whatever he's preaching about. They've made copies of his painting and are busy passing them out to the masses and there's a public speech scheduled a few days from now. Grantaire calls it Enjolras' 'sermon' and rather than being irritated he grins.
After the meeting Grantaire jogs after him, and kisses him when he finally catches up under the shadow of a willow tree. Enjolras smiles against his mouth and when he slips away says, "I'll see you next meeting."
Grantaire doesn't know what this is and doesn't think he really cares.
He only starts getting worried when the kisses graduate to something more. They're sessions now, long stretches of time spent exploring one another, and Grantaire remembers the scales hidden under his clothes. It's different with one-night stands; he explains it away as a skin condition (no one touches them after that), and in the dark nobody can wonder about the color.
But Enjolras is dangerously smart and Grantaire realizes seven weeks in that he needs to stop this. He can't be putting himself at risk every meeting just because he's halfway in love with their leader.
He waits to say something until afterward, when the Amis have left with new missions in mind and Grantaire traditionally stays to help Enjolras clean up (and sometimes to kiss, but if anyone suspects nobody says anything).
"Enjolras," he says suddenly, straightening pamphlets. "I think we should--"
Enjolras leans across the table and kisses him, drowning out the remainder of his sentence. Grantaire groans something that sounds like, "Fuck," into the rebel's mouth and Enjolras stops only long enough to walk around the table to get to him.
He backs Grantaire into the wall and it feels like all his logic is getting kissed out of him; he forgets whatever he was going to say, can't remember why he was so worried and thought this should stop. He's rudely reminded when Enjolras slides his hands under his shirt and Grantaire writhes like he's being burned.
"Wait," he says breathlessly but Enjolras' palms skim lower and when his thumbs first brush the scales, they both flinch. Enjolras jerks his hands back but they return in a moment; tentatively he touches where reptile bleeds into human, and turns owlish eyes up to Grantaire's face.
"It's a skin condition," he says immediately, and both of them stare at each other; Enjolras incredulous, Grantaire grasping at any excuse that might get him out of this. "Contagious too."
But Enjolras does not retract his hands again, and looks back down at the scales. "I always hoped," he says slowly, "But I never really thought there was even a chance."
"Disease," Grantaire reminds him, but Enjolras isn't listening. He has found his dreams contained in the form of a drunken young man and he is not letting go--like a terrier with his prey, he sinks his teeth in.
"Why didn't you tell me you where a dragon?" He asks, and Grantaire can't help but feel guilty from the look the blonde gives him (he decepetively appears hurt, with his blue eyes widened and his full mouth drawn into an injured frown). "I've talked of dragons for weeks yet you've said nothing--were you ever going to tell me?"
Grantaire frowns and tries to push his shirt back down but Enjolras' hands are firm and he doesn't want to fight him; he gives up and slouches against the wall with a long sigh.
"No," he says honestly, "I wasn't."
"A dragon," Enjolras says again, like he can't quite believe it yet he wants to so desperately. He circles the scales with his thumbs and Grantaire shudders; the skin surrounding them is ridiculously sensitive, and it draws goosebumps down his arms.
"May I?" He asks.
Grantaire is somewhere in a state of disbelief that this is happening and acceptance that he's been found; he nods because there's no way he's going to tell him no.
Enjolras unbuttons his pants and forcefully pulls his jeans down, baring his scales to the light. He sucks in a breath and drops to his knees and Grantaire is incredibly uncomfortable at how close Enjolras is to him; he tries not to think about it and is glad that he at least put on clean boxers that morning.
"Wow," he breathes. "You have so many."
He's studying the ones on his hipbones that sit like branded handprints and they're born from an oval around his belly button that flares off to either side of his waist. These are tiny scales, compressed in this form, and when Enjolras runs his hand down them they ripple obligingly.
"I have more," Grantaire says quietly, because Enjolras can't seem to stop touching him. He looks up at him like he's a god and Grantaire steps out of his pants, turns sideways to the blonde can see the patches on the outside of his ankles that go midway up his calves. Enjolras caresses them reverently and Grantaire swallows down what's rising in his throat.
(Panic, he thinks. He's panicking.)
"You're Alsius, aren't you?"
Grantaire shivers at the name; it's been so long since anybody called him that, and Enjolras looks up, reaches for the hem of his shirt. "Stop," he says forcefully, and it surprises them both. He pushes Enjolras' hands away and says, "I can't."
He doesn't like that Enjolras is staring at him like this, like he's suddenly become much more than a man he liked kissing. Grantaire doesn't want this--he doesn't want to be put on a pedestal, where he has so much farther to fall.
He grabs his jeans and pulls them on and Enjolras watches him, still on his knees, his hands pressed to his thighs. Perhaps he knows that Grantaire is too upset to reason with; but as he hurriedly yanks on his coat Enjolras says, "Please come to the next meeting. I won't tell anyone."
Grantaire bends down and puts his shoes on and his back hurts and he says hoarsely, "I'll be there," because they both know he will.
When he goes home that night he gets so drunk that all he can draw is Enjolras' reverent face.
Enjolras is used to not hearing from Grantaire in between meetings but he still thinks about him almost constantly. Combeferre comes over to brainstorm and eventually asks if they broke up.
Enjolras blinks and frowns. "We weren't dating," he replies, but Combeferre only hums and returns to his paper and he starts to think that maybe they could have.
Except you scared him off, comes a reprimanding voice in his head. And he probably won't ever come back.
But of course he will, Enjolras thinks. He has to.
There's three more days until the meeting and Enjolras cleverly keeps himself occupied with revolution (but the whole time he preaches about dragons he thinks of Grantaire's scales and how they felt under his hands, soft and smooth, like a snake born of the water).
Combeferre and Courfeyrac come early to help him set up and Enjolras continuously looks at the door as they work; Courfeyrac can't name his expression, but when it gets ridiculous he elbows Combeferre to ask. "What's up with our fearless leader?"
Combeferre sighs. "He won't say," he answers. "But I'm positive that it has something to do with Grantaire."
Courfeyrac nods sagely, because this answer makes total sense, and they both look at Enjolras (who's frowning as he stares out the front window).
"I wonder what happened," Courfeyrac muses.
The door opens and Enjolras looks up expectantly but it's only Jehan, wrapped up in two sweaters that really don't match. Enjolras sighs and goes back to cleaning the table.
"So," Courfeyrac says lightly, perching on the edge of the table. "Who are we waiting for?"
Enjolras sighs and casts a look at Combeferre, who merely smiles beneath the glint of his glasses. Both of them already know the answer; Enjolras clears his throat and says, "I was hoping Grantaire may come early."
"He never comes early," Jehan remarks, being completely out of the loop as usual.
Courfeyrac laughs and is about to explain that Enjolras and Grantaire are in love, you know, and poor Enjolras isn't used to being stood up, but then the door opens and everyone turns to look.
Grantaire blinks at them, multiple scarves wrapped around his head. Dragons don't do well in the cold, and it's been getting methodically colder as the weeks wear on. "Were you guys expecting someone else?" He asks with a laugh, and very carefully doesn't look at Enjolras he nudges the door shut behind him.
"Oh, no," Courfeyrac says happily, throwing an arm around his shoulders. "Just excited to see you."
Enjolras frowns after them and Grantaire barely meets his eye. He's busy right up until the meeting starts and then Enjolras is expected to be productive, so he has to pretend that he isn't terribly distracted. Grantaire keeps scratching at the scales Enjolras knows are at his hip and Grantaire smirks at him every time he catches him staring.
When the meeting finally ends Enjolras grabs Grantaire's elbow and pulls him forcefully to a standstill.
"Alsius," he says, because he's going for a cheap shot just to make Grantaire stay and he noticed how he reacted to that name before (he does not disappoint, and jerks as though shot). "We need to talk."
"It's Grantaire," he corrects sharply, and pulls his arm free. "What do you even want to say?"
"Why are you avoiding me?" Enjolras is cutting straight to the chase; there's no point in wasting time, not with the way Grantaire is looking at him (somewhere on the cusp of homicidal). "What did I do?"
"I'm not something you can save," he says bitingly. "All that shit happened decades ago; what I am now is not what I was."
Enjolras nods, although he doesn't believe it. He does not think a person can change so entirely; somewhere below his scars, Grantaire is the revolutionary he once was. "Fine," he says instead.
"And you can't tell the others," he adds. "Not unless you absolutely need to."
He agrees to that too, though he isn't sure how long he can keep up such a complex front to Combeferre and Courfeyrac. His two closest friends are likely to see through it long before he even suspects they've noticed the lie.
"And one more thing." Grantaire grins a bit, touches his teeth to his bottom lip. "I would like to kiss you."
Enjolras obliges him, and Grantaire tastes like smoke (he doesn't ask because he's heard the fire-breathing stories and isn't sure he's ready to know whether that one was right or not).