Grantaire sat bolt upright with a sharp intake of breath, snatched back into the world of the living against his will. His hands flew up to claw at the bullets riddling his chest, frantic, urgent - he could still feel them there, searing hot led burning beneath his skin.
He was dead – certainly, he was dead.
He could taste the blood clinging to the roof of his mouth, could still smell the gunpowder, gritty and smokey, burning in his nostrils like brimstone.
Yes, dead - he and Enjolras both, hand in hand, like a great Greek tragedy.
Grantaire had never given much consideration to the manner in which he might die, nor what he might have thought a good death, but, he thought, to die beside Enjolras was a far more noble ending than a wretch like him deserved.
He coughed suddenly, the action causing him to hunch over with the force of it, spitting up the taste of iron into his mouth.
How was he still drawing breath to cough with?
Slowly the room around him came into focus, the pain in his chest ebbing like the dying embers of a fire. Morning light streamed into the room from a window, softening the edges of everything it touched.
The most horrendous thought came to him at once - that he had somehow survived, and Enjolras, Enjolras had not.
He had said that Grantaire was incapable of death. Perhaps he had breathed the words into truth.
But no, that could not be; this was not the Corinthe - this was not any place he had ever seen before.
The room was brightly lit, and the furniture wrong - too sharp and plain. The walls were a deep red, and clutter covered the dresser that he did not recognize, that he could not even identify. Even the bed was wrong – too soft he thought, as he ran his hands over the sheets, balling them up in his fists. Too soft, too big.
He knew the voice – the voice of a ghost.
He turned his head to the left, heart stopping when he came eye to eye with Enjolras, sitting up beside him in the bed. Well, he resembled Enjolras, but not quite; there was something about him that did not feel entirely familiar. He had the look of a man who had just woken from a deep slumber - heavy eyelids and long eyelashes, beautiful golden curls an untamed mane falling like a frame around his face. He was as magnificent as Grantaire remembered, but somehow harder around the edges, more human, less pristine.
“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice scratchy.
Grantaire couldn't speak, couldn't move.
This was not the Enjolras who had died beside him in the Corinthe – no, he was dressed differently for a start, garbed in something Grantaire had never seen before that left his arms bare but covered his body. And his voice; his voice, now that Grantaire let the sound wash over him, seemed strange. Deeper.
“Grantaire? What's wrong...?” his eyebrows came together in concern, “Are you having an anxiety attack...?” he asked softly – too softly.
“A what?” Grantaire said, and it felt wrong to speak, his throat sore as though he hadn't used his voice in years.
“Take deep breaths,” Enjolras soothed, reaching out to take his hand; the contact sent a sharp pain shuddering though him, and he pulled away, breath catching.
“No, I---how are you----this is not---”
“Grantaire, it's alright---”
“No, it is certainly not alright,” Grantaire said, scrambling out of bed; a mirror hung on the back of the door, and as he caught a glimpse of himself in it he felt the strangest thrill of alarm rush through his body. He was shirtless, wearing very little on his lower half, and---and wrong. He brought his hands up to the sides of his face almost instinctively.
“What became of my beautiful sideburns?!” he cried.
“Your---what?” Enjolras squinted, cocking his head as though he thought he had misheard him, “What are you talking about?”
“Nothing is right,” Grantaire said, patting his face, “Nothing. I do not---where am I?”
“You're in our room---”
“Yes. Grantaire, are you okay?” Enjolras asked, his confused expression inexplicably darkening, “You haven't been taking anything, have you...?”
“Drugs,” Enjolras prompted, “I...I won't be happy if you have, but I'd rather you just be honest be with me...”
Grantaire frowned, searching his memory; opiates might make fine sense of this mess, but nothing came to mind. No, strangely enough he was quite sure that by the end he had been sobered by the events in the Corinthe.
“Would absinthe count?” he offered.
“Absi---what?!” Enjolras said, jaw dropping, “You've been drinking absinthe?”
“Not that I recall, but if you insist I must be under some wicked influence then that is the best guess that I can give you,” Grantaire stated, wishing he could have given Enjolras whatever answer he desired.
“Enjolras, I am at a loss,” he confessed, “I do not know what is happening. I do not know why I am here. I do not know why you are here – you, of all souls. You despise me---”
“What are you talking about?” Enjolras said, “I don't despise you – not even close, you're my boyfriend---”
The word meant painfully little to Grantaire, but to Enjolras it seemed to mean a great deal.
“Yes!” he exclaimed, throwing up his hands, “Grantaire, whatever joke you think you're pulling, now is definitely not a good time to---”
“I am not jesting, truly!” Grantaire said, desperate to make him understand, “I do not know where I am! Please, you must hear me – it was us in the Corinthe, the last of us all...”
“Why are you talking like that?!”
Enjolras finally alighted the bed, crossing the room towards him, “Grantaire, please,” he said, placing his hands firmly on his shoulders as though to ground him into place, “What happened?” he asked, “Did you have a nightmare?”
“No nightmare, I fear,” Grantaire whispered. He did not know what had happened to answer him; he had died, and then he had not, and now he was here. He may as well have been in another world for all he recognised of this one; even Enjolras, the face he would know before all others, did not seem quite as he remembered it.
He recalled the meeting of their eyes, the slight tremble of Enjolras' lips, the feel of his pulse quickening as he grasped his hand. They had died. They had died, and yet they were here, and Enjolras seemed unaware of any of it.
“My chest,” he remembered suddenly, bringing his hands up to himself again, fingers searching bare skin for wounds that they did not find. His fingertips brushed over a small mark, left of his heart, and then another, just below. Four, he felt - four in total...
“What are these?” he said, more to himself than to Enjolras.
“Birthmarks...” Enjolras said, raising one eyebrow, “You've always had them. You know that...”
He spoke with the confidence of someone who had intimate knowledge of another person's body, something which was almost more jarring to contemplate than the scars on his chest.
“No,” Grantaire said, “I haven't, no, I was shot, Enjolras, we were---we were---”
“Just calm down, okay?” Enjolras said, turning and retrieving something small and shiny from the nightstand, “Sit down, or...something. Please,” he begged, “I just have to text Combeferre...”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Grantaire said, frantic; he could feel the panic starting to rise in the room.
“Combeferre? He is here?”
“You remember Combeferre, then?” Enjolras asked hopefully, “And Courfeyrac? You remember him?”
“Courfeyrac? Of course. A complete dandy.”
Enjolras let out a near hysterical laugh, tapping away at the thing in his hand, “That's a novel way of describing him...” he said, “I just need to send Combeferre an S.O.S and let him know we have a...a situation. I think that's what this is. Will you sit down? Please?”
Grantaire did as he was told, staring dumbly into space. Still nothing made sense - least of all that Enjolras was speaking to him so sweetly, so tenderly, like one might a lover.
The strangeness of his surroundings paled in comparison to that.
He watched as Enjolras paced back and forth with the device in his hand, toying nervously with a curl of his hair.
“Okay,” he said finally, turning to face Grantaire again, “A few of the group are on their way over. We'll...get this sorted out. Whatever it is...”
“Forgive me, but I am very much confused at present,” Grantaire said, “You...our friends...they perished, all of them, and us as well – I...I recall it so vividly, as though there was nothing that came before it, and yet here I am, and here you are...”
Enjolras' expression twisted into one of horror, “R, you're starting to scare me,” he said, taking a step back; Grantaire wanted to reach out to him, to beg him not to shy away. Fear was not an emotion he had ever witnessed in Enjolras before – not even as they had faced a company of soldiers and their muskets.
“Enjolras, forgive me – I wish I knew what to do,” he said quietly.
Enjolras eyed him warily, “Are you sure you haven't been drinking?” he asked.
“Not that I recall.”
“Then I don't know what...” Enjolras shook his head, trailing off, “Just...stay put, please, until the others arrive...”
Combeferre hummed thoughtfully to himself.
“Look at me,” he instructed, holding one of Grantaire's eyes open and flashing a bright light into it.
“Your pupils aren't dilated,” he murmured, “And you don't seem to be concussed...”
Combeferre had been the first of the group to arrive, looking every bit as Grantaire remembered him - save for his clothes, for which Grantaire was still awaiting an explanation.
“I'm worried he's an aneurysm or something,” Enjolras said quietly from the doorway, hugging his arms. He looked worried – beside himself, in fact, and it was another expression that Grantaire had never seen on him before. It did not suit him.
“So what happened, exactly?” Combeferre asked, still inspecting him.
“He just woke up freaking out and he couldn't remember anything,” Enjolras supplied, “Well, he remembers us, but...not,” he said, “He remembers us differently. He keeps talking about the 19th century.”
“Has there been any bleeding at all?” Combeferre asked, glancing back over his shoulder at Enjolras, “From his nose or ears? His mouth?”
“No.” Enjolras shook his head.
“Hm. Strange.” Combeferre mused, glancing back at Grantaire again. He felt like a specimen in some menagerie, poked and prodded to satisfy the curiosity of science. He did not like it.
“Confusion like this could be the result of a bleed on the brain of some kind, or perhaps even a stroke,” Combeferre said, “But he isn't showing any other signs that would point to either of those things.”
“So he doesn't have a brain tumor?” Enjolras said, flexing his fingers on his arms as he held himself, “Please tell me he doesn't...”
“There's no way to tell for sure without an MRI, but I highly doubt it.”
Enjolras let out a small sigh; though Grantaire did not comprehend everything they were speaking of he could not help but notice that the relief Enjolras experienced did not seem to extend to Combeferre.
“Enjolras,” the medical student began, “I am worried that it could instead be something...psychological.”
“Psychological?” Enjolras echoed, “What do you mean?”
“Grantaire is...troubled,” Combeferre muttered, averting his gaze.
“You speak as though I am not here,” Grantaire said finally, breaking the tense silence that had succeeded Combeferre's words.
“Sorry,” Combeferre said, “I'm just concerned – what do you recall before all of...this?” he asked, encompassing all of Grantaire in one uncertain wave of his hand.
“Gunfire,” Grantaire answered, feeling almost as though he could still hear the din of the muskets ringing in his ears, “Cannons.”
“Cannons?” Combeferre repeated, eyebrows raising high above his spectacles, “I...well. Wow...”
“Will you not answer my questions, finally?” Grantaire begged, looking between him and Enjolras, “Where am I?”
“Paris,” Enjolras said; he looked as though he was teetering on the cusp of something, eyes shining with tears, “You're in Paris, in our apartment. Do you really not remember anything?"
“Of course I do,” Grantaire said softly, moving to stand; Combeferre set a firm hand on his chest, pushing him back down into a sitting position.
“I remember so much, Enjolras,” he continued, batting Combeferre's hand away, “All of it. Especially you. We died, I---”
“That never happened!” Enjolras cut in, “Don't you remember anything recent? Don't you remember us?”
“Enjolras, this isn't a good time to do this,” Combeferre advised, “He is clearly not in his right mi---”
“This isn't a good time for him to lose his memory, either!” Enjolras said desperately; almost as soon as he'd spoken he appeared to regret his words, curling in on himself, “I'm sorry – I...I'm sorry. I know it's not his fault, it's just...” he looked down, “Now is the worst time for this...”
“I know,” Combeferre said gently.
“Why?” Grantaire asked, “What has happened?”
Enjolras opened his mouth to speak, but Combeferre cut across him; “We shouldn't be discussing this now,” he said, “Grantaire, I need you to stay where you are while we pack you a hospital bag, okay?”
“A hospital bag?”
“Yes,” Combeferre said, “We need to make sure there's nothing seriously wrong.”
Grantaire fell silent, unsure of what he was supposed to say; nothing around him made any more sense than it had when he'd first woken up. The room was still wrong, the world was still out of alignment. He felt a horrible tightness seize his chest, gripping him like a vice and sending a tremor to the tips of his fingers. He could feel his heart pounding, pressure crashing down over him like a wave with each beat.
At that very moment the door opened again and a familiar face burst into the room; it was Jean Prouvaire, with his hair windswept and his freckled cheeks flushed as though from running.
“Wait!” he cried, causing both Enjolras and Combeferre to stop in their tracks.
“Don't take him to hospital,” he pleaded, “Don't – they'll just commit him to a psych ward or something---”
“It might be what he needs right now,” Combeferre argued gently, “There is no shame in getting help, Jehan, you should know that,"
“I do know that,” Jehan said, “But it's not a mental health thing. Trust me.”
“How would you know?” Enjolras asked, mystified.
Jehan took a deep, shuddering breath, “Because this happened to me too.”
“Are you serious?” Enjolras said slowly. This felt like a bad dream. A really, really bad dream.
“Yes!” Jehan sighed, exasperated, “What part of this makes you think I'm not?”
“You're saying he's remembering things from a past life,” Combeferre reminded him, surprisingly patient; Enjolras didn't know how he was managing it. He'd reached breaking point about twenty minutes ago, the moment Grantaire had started rambling about cannons and muskets.
“Because I think he is!” Jehan said, “Will you listen to me? It happened to me a while back and...I mean, I didn't want to mention it to any of you in case you reacted like this,”
“What exactly happened?” Combeferre asked calmly.
“Well I just thought I had a really wild trip, to be honest,” Jehan admitted, glancing at Grantaire, “But this is eerily familiar..."
“It's probably just a coincidence,” Enjolras said, not even wanting to contemplate the alternative, "That sort of thing isn't real."
"Enjolras," Combeferre placed one hand on Enjolras as though to stop him running from the room, “Let's give him a chance,”
“Lets---are you for real?!” Enjolras said, jerking away and staring at Combeferre with a look of abject betrayal. Was everyone around him really entertaining this idea?
No – no way.
“This is a joke,” he decided, looking from Combeferre to Jehan, “Right? You're all in on this, aren't you? Combeferre I expected more from you...”
“This isn't a joke, Enjolras,” Jehan murmured, “We wouldn't do something this cruel. Especially not right now.”
Enjolras hugged himself nervously, looking down, “This doesn't make sense...” he said.
“Which is why you should hear me out,” Jehan reasoned, “Please.”
Enjolras wasn't entirely sure if he wanted to listen to whatever Jehan had to say - he was worried he might actually believe it if he did. He looked so serious, so sure...
He shot a sidelong glance at Combeferre, “What do you think?”
Combeferre gave a diplomatic shrug, “You know how I feel,” he said, “I don't deny the existence of anything unless I can disprove it. And I can't disprove this, so...I'm open to it I suppose.”
Enjolras winced, “Fine,” he said, “Just say your piece Jehan so we can get him to hospital and get him an MRI.”
"Okay," Jehan took a deep breath, “Well a few weeks ago I got a bit...out of it--"
“That's a great start,” Enjolras said dryly.
“I know, but just wait, please. Anyway when I woke up and I...felt like I was twenty years older. Like I'd lived twice. And then there was all these other memories in my head,” Jehan explained, looking so strangely wistful about it that doubt began to claw at Enjolras' insides.
“They were real, I swear,” he said, seeing the look on Enjolras' face, “I remembered everything about my life. You don't just make up that many details.”
“And you think that's what's happened to Grantaire?” Combeferre asked.
“Well, yeah,” Jehan said, turning to look at Grantaire, who had fallen unusually quiet in the midst of all the arguing.
“Grantaire – you remember me, right?”
“Of course,” Grantaire said, looking him up and down, “You are dressed a little differently than I recall, though,” he remarked, “Still not the most fashionable fellow...”
Jehan wrinkled his nose, “Alright, ease up,” he said, “Look, R - can you tell me what happened to me? In your memories?”
“You died,” Grantaire whispered, “You were taken prisoner. They executed you. I was asleep – but I heard it, inside the Corinthe. I thought I was dreaming.”
A strange shiver seemed to run it's course through Jehan at the words; Enjolras felt it too.
“What else do you remember?”
“Your voice,” Grantaire told him, lifting his head to look him in the eyes; to Enjolras it seemed as though he were searching Jehan's soul for something familiar. Apparently he found it.
“I heard your voice," he said hoarsely, "'Long live France, long live the future'...”
Jehan exhaled sharply, turning to face Enjolras and Combeferre again, “It matches up with what I remember," he said gravely, “Do you still think I'm being ridiculous?”
“I wish I did,” Enjolras said, feeling his stomach twisting with unease. No, this wasn't a bad dream - this was a straight up nightmare.
“I think you might actually be onto something,” Combeferre confessed – and if Combeferre thought there was some credibility to it, well. Enjolras was doomed.
“I didn't lose my memories, though,” Jehan added as an afterthought – as though that wasn't the most concerning part of this whole situation - “No idea what's happened to him there, sorry."
“Then what do we do?!” Enjolras said, horrified, “I...I can't just live with this guy from the 18th century---”
“19th,” Jehan corrected quietly.
“Do that really matter?! I can't. He's not the same man!” Enjolras cried, gesturing frantically towards him; Grantaire looked hurt, but Enjolras did not have the grace or tact at the moment to care.
“His whole personality will be different! What will he think of me?!” he said, voice rising in panic, “I'm pretty sure the entire concept of being transgender was a bit of a taboo deal in the 1800's!”
“Enjolras, calm down,” Combeferre urged, taking his hand in his own, “You need to try and keep your head. It's not good for you...”
“I know, okay?!” Enjolras growled, “Just...what am I supposed to do? What do you do when your boyfriend starts talking like someone from Downton Abbey?!"
“From what?” Grantaire asked, baffled. Enjolras pointed at him as though to prove his point.
“Seriously, Combeferre,” he said, “What in your infinite wisdom do you advise me to do about this?!”
“I advise you to step outside and take a deep breath. Courfeyrac will be here soon, he'll talk to you whilst we...I don't know...” Combeferre looked to Jehan for help.
“Catch Grantaire up on the last couple hundred years?” He suggested.
“Oh god,” Enjolras covered his mouth with his hands, “I'm going to be sick,” he announced.
Combeferre's face paled dramatically.
“Oh,” he said, “Oh, crap, okay---” he rushed forward to help steer him towards the door, but it was no use – he couldn't hold it. Enjolras grabbed nearest thing he could find before he forfeit the contents of his stomach.
Unfortunately, it happened to be Combeferre's satchel.
“I'm sorry,” he said immediately.
Combeferre's expression barely changed, “Okay,” he sighed, "That's...that's fine."
“Is he quite alright?” Grantaire asked worriedly from his place on the bed.
“Yes, yes, it's fine,” Combeferre insisted, taking his satchel reluctantly from Enjolras and holding it out at arm's length, “He's okay. It's anxiety,” he said, “Enjolras, just go and wait in the living room for Courfeyrac, okay?”
Enjolras wiped his mouth, still feeling the burn in his nostrils, “Okay,” he agreed, “I need to sit down.”
“So they're doing what now, exactly?”
“Giving my boyfriend a crash course in history, I think,” Enjolras lamented, staring down into his coffee like it had all the answers.
“Wow,” Courfeyrac said, letting out a low whistle, “That's...”
“I know.” Enjolras murmured, “Fuck. This is a nightmare. I don't know what to do...”
“That's understandable. It's not every day your boyfriend has a weird past-life regression thing going on,” Courfeyrac said, sliding a croissant across the table to him on a plate, “I grabbed this for you on my way over. You're welcome.”
Enjolras turned his nose up at it, pushing it back to Courfeyrac. Just the thought of food right now was making his stomach turn.
“I can't.” he said.
“You have to eat,” Courfeyrac argued, “Now more than ever!"
“I can't. I doubt I'd manage to keep it down.” Enjolras said, “Thank you, though...”
“Don't lecture me, please. I'm really not in the mood for it right now.”
“I don't mean to lecture you.” Courfeyrac said, shoulders sagging, “I'm just trying to help where I can. You shouldn't even be drinking coffee...”
“One cup won't be the end of the world,” Enjolras protested, gripping his mug tightly, “I swear you're worse about this than Joly..."
“Okay, fine,” Courfeyrac sighed, holding up his hands in surrender, “But it's not going to help you stop feeling sick, is it?”
Privately Enjolras was inclined to agree; every sip of coffee made his stomach felt like it was about to stage a riot. But he wasn't about to admit that, of course.
“What if he doesn't get his memories back?” he asked suddenly, changing the subject.
Courfeyrac fell uncharacteristically silent at his side.
“I don't know,” he said after a long pause, “I guess we'll figure that out if it happens...”
“I need him - right now more than ever,” Enjolras said, feeling a heavy lump form in his throat. Probably more vomit, he thought.
“Could you learn to love this version of him? Not that you'll have to!” Courfeyrac said, backtracking when Enjolras looked at him with alarm, “You need to stay optimistic that he'll get his memories back. But, you know...just in case...?” he asked cautiously.
“I don't know,” Enjolras confessed; it felt like a failing on his part to admit that he might not be able to love this new version of Grantaire – or this old version, if that really was what was happening.
Maybe it made him shallow. Maybe it made him weak. But how could he possibly be expected to love a stranger? 19th century France and 21st century France were very different worlds.
“He's still Grantaire,” Courfeyrac said gently.
“Is he, though?” Enjolras questioned, tapping his fingers nervously against his mug, “I mean, what could we possibly have in common if all his memories are from the 1800's?”
“Well, what do you guys really have in common now?” Courfeyrac pointed out, “You don't need to have stuff in common to compliment each other...”
“But there's a big difference between having clashing personalities and being mentally in two completely different eras, Courf,” Enjolras said, “His whole world view will be different if he stays this way...”
“You'll figure something out,” Courfeyrac promised, “You guys are meant for each other. If he really is remembering some weird past life kind of shit it's...kind of romantic, isn't it?”
“That he remembers you. Or like, a version of you.” Courfeyrac smiled, “Means you guys were together even across the ages. That's got to be promising, right? It's got to mean something...”
“Yeah,” Enjolras said, “It means there's something seriously wrong with him. Sorry Courf, but I don't know if I can believe...this...” he shook his head, sipping his coffee, “It's too...weird.”
“But Jehan's memories matched up with Grantaire's,” Courfeyrac pointed out, “That can't just be a coincidence. Weird things happen all the time, we don't know shit about the universe and all the freaky stuff it's capable of.”
“I guess. I'll reserve judgement for now, thanks,” Enjolras decided, getting to his feet, “Now if you'll excuse me, I think I have to go and throw up again.”
Courfeyrac grimaced, “Awesome.”
Enjolras was still hunched on the bathroom floor up clinging to the toilet seat when Combeferre came to find him, Courfeyrac behind him, craning neck to get a look at Enjolras.
“Are you okay?” Combeferre asked.
Enjolras wanted to laugh, but his stomach gave a horrible lurch and he ended up ducking his head back into the toilet bowl instead.
“Does that answer your question?” he asked when he was finished, shivering slightly. His mouth tasted disgusting.
“Sorry,” Combeferre murmured, “That was a stupid thing to ask.”
“You don't say?”
Combeferre pursed his lips, awkwardly kneeling down beside him to hold back his hair for him, “Here...”
“Thanks,” Enjolras mumbled, spitting out the foul taste in his mouth, “How is he...?”
“A bit confused,” Combeferre reported, “But not too bad. Jehan is staying with him.”
“Good. Any idea what we're going to do?”
“Not really,” Combeferre said, “But we've all agreed he needs to be on house arrest for a while.”
“Yeah,” Courfeyrac said, “It could be bad, otherwise. I don't think the Eiffel tower was even built when he remembers being around, imagine how much that would fuck him up? We don't want, like, a Steve Rogers in The First Avenger thing going on.”
“A what?” Enjolras frowned.
“You know – that scene at the end of the first Captain America movie, where he runs into Times Square and everything is modern?” Courfeyrac prompted, “Come on, Enj, I know you like, have no free time or hobbies but even you have to have seen at least one Marvel movie---”
“I get the idea,” Enjolras dismissed, “Keep him in the apartment. Got it. Any other suggestions?"
"Bring up recent memories," Combeferre supplied, "That might help him remember some things?"
"I'll do my best. Did you explain about me?”
“Yeah, and he took it remarkably well,” Combeferre said, and the information kindled the slightest spark of hope in Enjolras' chest.
“He's glad there's a word for it now. Apparently whilst the idea of being trans was kind of taboo it wasn't completely unheard of..."
“Of course it wasn't. We've always existed,” Enjolras said, leaning away from the toilet to flush it, “So he's...okay with it?”
“Fine,” Courfeyrac said, “He's just worried about you, mostly."
“And did you tell him----”
“No,” Combeferre cut in, “That...might be a bit too much for him right now. Give it a few days, maybe...”
Enjolras sighed, resting his face against the toilet seat again; he didn't care how unhygienic it was, it was cool against his cheek in a way that felt like bliss.
“Fine,” he said, “Will you guys stay here today? And tonight, maybe. I may need help babysitting my 19th century boyfriend..."
“Sure,” Courfeyrac said, taking Combeferre's hand as though to volunteer him as well, “We'll be here. It'll be like a sleepover!” he beamed.
Enjolras groaned, diving back into the toilet again.
Grantaire's mind was racing, tripping over itself in a frantic race to process everything Combeferre and Prouvaire had just told him. The world was changed and everything was different – some things for the better and some things for the worse.
It was true that he had never believed the future would be quite as Enjolras had envisioned, but his heart weighed heavy with disappointment all the same to learn just how far from perfect it really was.
Enjolras had said once that the twentieth century would be happy - how wrong he had been.
How much misery, how much blood, how much loss the world had seen since Enjolras had spoken those words, righteous and determined and hopeful - so desperately, painfully hopeful. Grantaire had at often times mocked him for his idealism, yes, but each time he had done so he had done so desperately longing for Enjolras to prove him wrong.
But he hadn't.
Unfortunately Grantaire was now learning that his assessment of the world as a cruel and thankless place had been correct.
It was a tragedy, and it made Enjolras' death feel almost entirely in vain.
He had given every last drop of his blood, given his very life in the pursuit of a future that had never come.
No, Grantaire told himself – that was not true. Because Enjolras was here somehow, alive and radiant; the world could not be all bad, if that was so.
And there was no smallpox now, so Grantaire supposed that was an improvement at least.
He glanced up at the sound of his name, finding himself staring straight into Enjolras' maddeningly blue eyes. He was hovering cautiously on the threshold to the room, looking quite uncertain indeed. Never before had Grantaire seen him look so vulnerable and human. It should not have been as jarring as it was, he thought, for Enjolras was only a man after all.
“How are you holding up?” He inquired.
“I am not entirely sure,” Grantaire confessed, “I feel as though I have missed nearly two-hundred years, but I have been informed that that isn't true.”
“Maybe it is. Kind of. I don't know,” Enjolras said, looking somewhat helpless, “I wish I could be of more assistance...”
“Combeferre and Prouvaire did their best,” Grantaire murmured, “They tried to make some sense of the matter, if any sense can be made of such things.”
Enjolras gave a small nod, twisting a curl of his hair worriedly around his finger – it was such an endearing gesture that Grantaire felt longing ache deep within his chest. Some things could not be changed by time or distance, it seemed; he was still as desperately infatuated with Enjolras as he had been in 1832, still as smitten and hopeless.
“What did they tell you about me?” Enjolras asked eventually.
“Oh, you mean about the...situation, with you?” Grantaire clarified, raising his eyebrows; he saw the colour drain rapidly out of Enjolras' cheeks.
“Yes,” He said stiffly, “Combeferre told me you took it...well.”
Grantaire shrugged, “I have known stranger things that that,” he told him – he did not wish Enjolras to retreat further away from him, thinking him some brute who did not accept him. In truth, it pleased Grantaire greatly that society had moved forward at least a little – enough that Enjolras need not bury this part of himself deep down within him, or harbour it silently as one did a dark secret.
“It explains why you look different to how I remember,” he added, “You are taking---”
“Testosterone, yes,” Enjolras said, “Though not at the moment for...health reasons,” he mumbled.
“Well, it suits you well enough,” Grantaire assured him, “You look good. More yourself. And your voice is nice.”
“Thank you,” Enjolras said, “And...about us?” he added, “What did they tell you about us?”
“Us?” Grantaire furrowed his brow, unclear as to what he was referring. Was there something else Combeferre and Jean Prouvaire had failed to divulge?
“The group, you mean?”
“No, not the group,” Enjolras said, gripping the doorframe tightly, “They didn't tell you?”
“Didn't tell me what?”
Enjolras swallowed hard – so hard that Grantaire could see his throat move.
“Well,” He started, looking as though he was thinking very hard about what to say, “We're, you know – together,” he said.
“Together?” Grantaire echoed, confused.
“Yes. You know,” Enjolras pointed around the room, “We live together...”
“So I see, but I do not quite follow...” Grantaire said quietly, following his finger with his eyes, “You may have to explain...”
“We're together,” Enjolras repeated firmly, “In a relationship.”
Grantaire felt his heart all but stop.
“Do you mean to say – as in – we're lovers?”
“I---lovers?” Enjolras recoiled, “Well, yes. Bit of an antiquated term, but I suppose that's to be expected with all of...this,” he said, gesturing to Grantaire in his entirety, “Yes, Grantaire. We're lovers.”
“Oh my god,” Grantaire said, unable to say anything else.
It felt like he'd been hit with a brick.
Enjolras, with him?
“I...are you sure?” He managed.
“Am I---” Enjolras scoffed, “Am I sure? Of course I'm sure! We've been together three years! Trust me, there's more than enough evidence---”
“I'm sorry, I just---I am rather struggling to comprehend such a thing,” Grantaire admitted, running one hand through his hair; his curls still felt just as wild and messy as they always had. At least not everything was different.
“Why?” Enjolras asked, almost nervously, “Is it...not something you would want?”
“No! That is not the case, I assure you,” Grantaire said immediately, springing to his feet; Enjolras took a startled step back out of the room.
“I am sorry, please – do not go away,” Grantaire begged, “I feel like everything has changed. And this – this is where my mind begins to doubt it all as anything more than a dream.”
Enjolras frowned, venturing back over threshold, “Why?”
“Because I have loved you from the moment I saw you, but you...you disdain me, Enjolras. You think me a wretched drunk. Like a dog at your feet.”
Enjolras' face scrunched up in an unreadable emotion, “Was I truly so horrid, in your memories?”
“Not horrid,” Grantaire said, “Never horrid. Merely focused – and correct, to an extent. I was not helpful. I was not a revolutionary by any means.”
Enjolras gave a shaky sigh, folding his hands across his stomach, “Well it doesn't matter to me – not in this lifetime, anyway. I love you.”
Grantaire felt his heart give a great bound in his chest; he wanted to run to him, to lift him off his feet and kiss him senseless. But he couldn't; he was a stranger, in Enjolras' eyes. A stranger from the 1800's with no understanding of the world around him and no recollection of all they had apparently shared together. His stomach twisted into a horrid knot.
“I am sorry,” he said, “That I do not recall anything of our time together.”
Enjolras hugged himself tightly, looking down at this feet.
“But know that I do love you,” Grantaire added, taking a tentative step forward; they were only a few feet apart now, so close he could reach out and touch him if he dared.
“I have always loved you and I am sure the version of me that you are familiar with loves you also.”
Enjolras looked up to meet his gaze, as though searching it for something he recognised.
“I know,” he said, “And we'll get that version of you back.” he vowed, “Or...I don't know,”
“We'll try,” Grantaire said.
Enjolras exhaled slowly, offering him his hand, “Come on, then,” he said, “We're all going to camp out in the living room today and tonight. Combeferre thinks it would be a good idea to show you some history documentaries and stuff.”
“Forget it. You'll see.”
Grantaire smiled weakly, hesitating as he took his hand; the memory of the last time still echoed endlessly in his head. The soft, warm feeling of his skin against his, and then the sound of the report; the smell of black powder burning in his nose, searing pain...
This was different, though. This was gentle and pleasant and rang strangely familiar.
Maybe a part of him remembered this version of his life after all, somewhere deep down.
“Lead on,” he said.
It was baffling, in truth. Baffling and astonishing, and Grantaire could not get enough of it. He had never seen anything like it, nor ever been ambitious enough to imagine such a thing could exist.
“This is incredible,” he breathed, for perhaps the tenth time that evening.
“Yeah?” Jehan smiled, “I guess it is when you're not used to it...”
“It is amazing.”
“You know, I expected you to freak out a lot more, to be honest,” Courfeyrac said from where he was lounging in the armchair, “All the movies with time travel and shit have people like, screaming and stuff.”
“All the what?”
“Nevermind. I'm just pleased you're taking this so well.”
“Well, it is surprising,” Grantaire confessed, glancing at the 'television' again, “But not totally outrageous. There are some incredible inventions out there! Do you know that Thimonnier has created a machine that sews for you? It is astounding, though I imagine it shall put many young women out of work.”
“Oh my god,” Courfeyrac said, without further commentary.
“But this,” Grantaire continued, gesturing to the television, “This is truly something. Tell me again how it works, Combeferre,”
Combeferre gave a heavy sigh, fiddling with his glasses, “Very well,” he said, before launching into an exhaustive explanation.
“Truly wondrous,” Grantaire said to himself when he was finished, leaning back in his seat, “Thank you for taking the time to educate me.”
“You're welcome, I suppose,” Combeferre said, “Are you remembering anything from after 1832?” he pressed.
“Not yet,” Grantaire said, shrinking in on himself a little, “I am sorry. I am trying, I swear it...”
“If he didn't remember us being together he wont' remember anything else,” Enjolras muttered darkly from his place on the sofa; he had opted to sit away from him, using Prouvaire as a barrier between them on the three-seater. That he felt such distance was warranted made Grantaire's heart ache miserably; knowing now that they were lovers made it all the more agonizing. He longed to be able to wrap his arms around him, to hold him close – but Enjolras prohibited him from doing so, going so far as to place a friend between them like a blockade.
Like a barricade.
It hurt, though it was a strange manner of pain – rejection from a relationship he had not even dreamed he might have.
“Enjolras,” Combeferre said gently, breaking into his troubled thoughts, “You don't know that for sure. It's only just happened – give him some time...”
“How much time?” Enjolras whispered, loud enough for Grantaire to hear, “A week? A month? A year? You know I can't wait that long, Combeferre. Before, maybe – but now, I...” he cut off, wiping angrily at his eyes as though to push back any tears that might dare to show themselves.
“The clock is ticking, 'Ferre.”
“I know,” Combeferre said, “And we'll do our best, I promise.”
“Yeah,” Courfeyrac nodded, “We're here for you no matter what...” he glanced at Grantaire, smiling sadly, “Both of you. And hey – it's not too bad. 19th Century R could've been a complete asshole but he's okay! I love the Romantics, they're so liberal!”
“Tell me about it,” Prouvaire laughed, “Honestly I freaked out at first, but let me tell you – some of the memories I got back! I have some stories I could tell. Opium was so easy to get!”
“It's not any more?” Grantaire asked, shoulders sagging.
“Sorry, mon ami,” Jehan said, “Times have changed.”
Enjolras didn't know when he drifted off to sleep, but apparently he did, because when he opened his eyes again the room was dark, illuminated faintly by the light from the TV.
It was still buzzing away quietly, some documentary about the Berlin wall on the screen.
He lifted his head from the arm of the sofa, squinting as he glanced around the room; Courfeyrac was passed out in the armchair, snoring loudly, and next to him Jehan was curled up like a cat, wrapped in a blanket like a human burrito.
Combeferre's seat was empty.
Enjolras frowned, “'Ferre...?”
“Hey,” Combeferre said, appearing in the doorway to the kitchen with a mug of coffee; that explained his absence, then.
“You okay?” he asked.
“I guess,” Enjolras said, craning his neck past Jehan to get a look at Grantaire; he was fast asleep, his hair sticking up comically and drool running down his chin.
“He's asleep,” Combeferre told him, as though that wasn't already obvious.
“I can see that.”
Combeferre smiled sadly, eyes sympathetic, “It's late. Maybe you should go to the bedroom and sleep properly for a while – we'll keep an eye on Grantaire...”
Enjolras scowled, trying to shake the groggy feeling from his head, “No,” he said, “I'm okay...”
“You need to rest,” Combeferre insisted, “You're under a lot of stress and it's not good for you in your condition...”
Enjolras sighed, resting his face against the sofa again, “Are you going to give me another lecture?”
“No,” Combeferre said, having the good grace to look at least a little guilty, “But it's true.”
“I know it is; that's what I don't like about it.” Enjolras mumbled, glancing at Grantaire again. He felt a pang of sadness in his chest, so visceral it felt like a dagger in his heart.
“I don't know what to do, 'Ferre,” he whispered, “About Grantaire. I love him, I can't just turn those feelings off, but...”
“But I don't know him,” He winced, ducking his head in shame, “He's Grantaire but he's not Grantaire. There's this huge gulf between us that I don't know how to cross...”
“It's strange,” Combeferre agreed, perching himself precariously on the arm of the sofa, “And if I didn't trust Jehan's opinion so much I'd be getting him straight into hospital for a CT scan.”
Enjolras sighed, “What if his memories never come back? What am I supposed to do?”
Combeferre was quiet for a long time, “I don't know, Enjolras,” he said honestly, “But don't think like that yet, hey? It's only been a day...”
Enjolras closed his eyes, hoping to fight back the tears he felt threatening to surface, “I just miss him – my Grantaire, not this guy from the 19th century. I miss him, and I need him, 'Ferre...”
He felt a gentle hand in his hair, stroking the back of his head through his curls, “I know, Enjolras. Really, I do.”
“He was so excited about the baby,” Enjolras went on, feeling his voice starting to crack, “He was so excited and now he doesn't even know about it...”
“I wouldn't tell him just yet,” Combeferre said, “It might be too much for him to take in.”
“When do I tell him? When I can't hide it any more? When I go into labour? When the kid is three?”
“Give it a week,” he advised, “And see if anything comes back to him before then.”
Enjolras sniffled slightly, finally opening his eyes to look up at him, “Thank you - for being here. All of you.”
“We've got your back.” Combeferre told him, “We always will have.”
“Are you going to tell the others?”
“We kind of have to,” Combeferre reasoned, “We can't keep this from them. If it goes on like this for a while they'll wonder what's up. I'll do it, don't worry – me and Jehan will make sure they understand. Why don't we bring him to the meeting tomorrow?”
Enjolras tilted his head, “I thought he was supposed to be on house arrest?”
“Well, yeah – but I'm starting to think exposing him to more of the modern world might rekindle his memory,” Combeferre said, “The meeting might switch something on. He's bound to recognise Joly and Bossuet, at least.”
“And he handled the TV really well – maybe it won't be too bad. Still, though, keep a close watch over him...”
“I will,” Enjolras said, stretching his back, “Urgh. I feel awful,” he complained.
“You are three months pregnant,” Combeferre reminded him fondly.
“Is that what that is?” Enjolras said dryly, “It had totally slipped my mind. I thought I was just putting on weight, puking my guts out and feeling cranky for the hell of it.”
“Haha,” Combeferre shook his head, sliding off the arm of the sofa, “Come on, then – you need to go to bed. You have to rest up. That's doctor's orders.”
“You're not a doctor yet,” Enjolras grumbled, getting to his feet. Combeferre had a point, though he was loathe to admit it; he was exhausted, aching all over in that way that only falling asleep on a sofa could do to you.
He padded across the room towards the bedroom door, pausing when he reached it.
“Goodnight,” Combeferre said softly, “Try to sleep well.”
Getting Grantaire from the apartment to Cafe Musain the next day was an ordeal – that was the only accurate way to describe it. Toting around a grown man who only had recollection of the 19th century was a bit like having a child or a very curious puppy to contend with – except this child-or-puppy was extremely articulate and talked like someone straight out of 'Pride And Prejudice'.
Every few minutes he was stopping to look at something, wide-eyed with wonder and bursting with questions. It was a nightmare getting him onto the Metro, Enjolras having to keep a vice-like grip on his arm to stop him getting lost in the crowd.
“This is all rather overwhelming,” he said to him, studying the billboards that plastered walls of the station, “Paris has changed a lot. The streets are wider.”
“The widened them to stop people building barricades.” Enjolras informed him, ignoring the slightly odd looks they were getting from other commuters.
“Really?” Grantaire blinked once, and then smirked to himself, “I hope we had something to do with that.”
“Probably.” Enjolras said, “I wouldn't know.”
“Of course not – forgive me,” Grantaire said quietly, “I forget that you do not recall what I do. It seems impossible, given that you were there.”
“Yeah, well, 1832 Enjolras sounds like a frigid asshole from what you've told me,” Enjolras muttered, “So I don't feel like I'm missing out on much.”
“I wouldn't say that,” Grantaire argued, “You were just extremely dedicated to your cause. Things have changed in many ways since then – at least it appears so. It was a time of volatile politics and an incendiary social climate, you cannot be blamed for your harsh attitude...”
“Politics are still volatile, trust me,” Enjolras said, pulling out his phone and text Combeferre, “It's the same shit in different packaging.”
“If you say so,” Grantaire remarked, stopping abruptly, “What on earth is that?”
“In your hand?”
“Oh,” Enjolras raised his eyebrows, “A smartphone.”
“A smartphone. It's for sending messages to other people when you're not with them – among other things.” Enjolras explained, letting out a squeak of indignation as Grantaire made to snatch it from his hand.
“How?” he demanded, fascinated.
“I don't know, what do I look like, tech support?” Enjolras growled, wrenching it back.
“Forgive me – I know it must be terribly exhausting having to explain everything to me,” Grantaire said, and his voice was suddenly small, as though wounded.
Enjolras gave a heavy sigh.
“No – I'm sorry. I shouldn't be so short with you,” he said, “I'm just frustrated and anxious, I guess. I don't know what to do – I don't even know what make smalltalk with you about.”
“I'm sure there must be something we have in common,” Grantaire said, “Surely not everything about the world has changed.”
“I guess...” Enjolras said, freezing up as the train car gave a violent lurch; his stomach made a horrible sound, indicating that it was about to start rioting against him again.
“I need to sit down,” he announced, steadying himself on the bar in front of him, “Like, right now. Immediately.”
“Oh – ah, of course,” Grantaire said, awkwardly trying to help him towards a seat.
“Excuse me, Monsieur, would you mind moving? My partner requires a seat---”
The man sitting closest to them scoffed, “I'm not going anywhere.” he said, “You can both stand. I was here first.”
“Look, either you move or you get a lap full of vomit, it's your call,” Enjolras snapped.
Thankfully that seemed to work.
When they finally alighted the Metro and reached the Musain Enjolras found that their friends were anxiously awaiting their arrival; it looked like Combeferre and Jehan had stuck to their end of the deal and explained the situation to everyone.
Joly and Bossuet had been lined up at the front of the room as if reporting for duty, and the moment he and Grantaire stepped foot in the cafe Courfeyrac nudged them both forwards.
“R!” Joly said, breaking into a transparently nervous smile, “Hey, buddy...”
“Joly,” Grantaire said, beaming immediately, “It is good to see you, my friend! You've changed your hair,” he added, kissing each of his cheeks in turn.
“Ah, no, it's been like this a while, but---yeah, okay.”
“You remember us then, R?” Bossuet chipped in, laughing awkwardly as Grantaire moved to embrace him.
“Of course! How could I forget? It seems all of you are here,” Grantaire said jovially, looking over their shoulders at the rest of the group.
“So you remember us all, then?” Joly asked, a spark of hope in his eyes that Enjolras thought was tragically wasted.
“Awesome. Uh – which us?”
“What do you mean?”
Joly and Bossuet exchanged a panicked look, “I mean, 1800's us, or...?”
“Oh,” Grantaire looked as though he'd just been sprayed in the face with cold water, “Oh, I---did you think? I...I am sorry,” he said, turning apologetically to Enjolras, “I only remember them from before.”
Enjolras sighed, breezing past him to start the meeting, “Yeah,” he said, “I figured as much.”
“It's okay, R,” he heard Bahorel say from behind him, “We'll sit you down and fill you in on everything!”
The meeting passed mostly uneventfully, Grantaire staying silent for probably the first time in his whole life. It was understandable; he wasn't exactly up to date on any of the current politics, so it only made sense that he didn't have any opinions to insert into the conversation. For once Enjolras was able to start and finish his speech without disruption – and he didn't like it.
He'd become so used to having to debate Grantaire in the middle of it that he found himself pausing at the end of each sentence, waiting for an interruption that never came. The room was uncomfortably quiet – even the others didn't speak up, apparently too stunned by whatever was going on with Grantaire to focus on the meeting. Enjolras couldn't blame them; his own words rolled off his tongue without any real weight or meaning to them.
He missed Grantaire.
More specficially he missed his Grantaire, with his barbed tongue and witty remarks and ability to irritate him to no end.
For years they'd skirted around each other, doggedly ignoring that their bickering bordered dangerously close on flirting and their friends constantly trying to push them together. Enjolras had thought it would be that way forever – and maybe it would have been, if he hadn't run into Grantaire walking along the Seine one night.
It had been a hilarious revelation to them both – years of being awkward friends and neither of them knew the other made a frequent habit of late night walks around Paris.
'It's how I clear my head,' Enjolras had told him.
'It's how I come up with anything creative,' Grantaire had said back.
A few midnight wandering 'dates-but-not-dates' and a tentative kiss on Pont Des Arts later and they had figured it all out.
Three years had passed since then, and now – well, now Enjolras felt like he'd lost it all. It was Grantaire who'd lost his memories, sure, but it was Enjolras who'd lost his boyfriend.
And at the worst possible time, he thought, moving his hands almost unconsciously to his stomach.
Definitely the worst possible time.
Guess what mercury was often used in the treatment of to win extra points.
(the points are worthless)
Grantaire wasn't sure what to make of it all. The meeting struck a strange chord in his chest, like a song one had heard many times before but still could not name. Though things were different much ached of the familiar; Joly and Bossuet were as merry as he recalled, Bahorel had the same musical laugh. Combeferre was as stern and level-headed, Feuilly as industrious, Marius as awkward. The only thing missing from the picture was the appropriate clothing and candles on the tables. He could have very easily been forgiven for closing his eyes and imagining himself back where he remembered.
“So what was the 19th century like, R?” Bahorel asked suddenly, pulling up his chair to the table and slinging one arm around his shoulders, “I've got to admit I'm curious!”
“Ah,” Grantaire said, jolted out of his thoughts.
“Less comfortable.” he supplied; it was all he could come up with, in truth. Too much was different for him to even begin to list – it would have taken him a whole lifetime.
“More cholera.” he added after a moment of consideration.
“You don't say,” Joly said, shuddering with disgust, “Do you mind answering a few questions?”
“I suppose,” Grantaire said, “What would you like to know?”
“Is it true there was opium in everything?”
“A lot of things,” Grantaire said, “Prouvaire tells me it's hard to come by, these days. Why? What's wrong with it?”
“Did they really think masturbation would send people loopy?” Bahorel asked, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
“How often did you bathe?” Joly demanded, cutting across him.
“As often as money would allow,” Grantaire said, “The bath houses could be quite pricey and I had dominoes and gin I preferred to squander my allowance on.”
“Oh my god.”
“How many illegitimate kids did you have?” Bossuet asked, “You can tell us, I swear - I promise we won't say anything to Enjolras.”
Grantaire gave a nervous chuckle, “Ah, none to my knowledge...”
“How can you be sure about that, though?” Joly pressed, leaning across the table curiously, “Weren't condoms made of like, goat intestines or something?”
“Hey don't ask him about condoms, Joly,” Bahorel chastised, “Even 21st century R isn't very well acquainted with them if Enjolras' situation is anything to go by!”
At that Joly and Bossuet burst into unexplained laughter. Grantaire was completely lost.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“Oh, fuck,” Bahorel said, stopping short, “You don't know?”
“Shit. Forget it.”
“So we had 19th century counterparts, right?” Joly said, quickly changing the subject from whatever it was they'd found so hilarious.
“It would seem so,” Grantaire confirmed, “I remember you all from then, so I would assume as much.”
“Cool – and we were friends, yeah?”
“What kind of wacky shenanigans did we get up to?” Bossuet asked excitedly.
“I bet we had some wild times!” Joly agreed, grinning from ear to ear.
“We did,” Grantaire informed him, unable to help the smile that came to his face at the memories, “Sometimes we could go to Cafe Voltaire together and drink until they had no more wine and we were no longer welcome there,” he said, delighted by the laughter he received in response, “And now and then we would stroll through Jardin De Luxembourg together and try to catch the eye of any fair young thing that went by – Joly would make quite the fool of himself.”
“Oh, yes, and we often enjoyed watching the cockfighting together – I lost a great deal of money on more than one occasion.”
“Cockfighting?” Bossuet said, his laughter drying up in his throat, “Seriously? Fucking hell.”
Joly grimaced, “The 19th century was barbaric.”
Grantaire blinked, “I am sorry,” he said, “I did not realise---”
“It's okay,” Joly said, laying one hand on his arm, “It's...a product of the times I guess. Let's change the subject,”
“Yeah,” Bossuet said, “Joly, will you get the drinks in?”
“Do they serve absinthe?” Grantaire asked, watching as Joly made his way up to the counter to talk to a pretty young woman.
Bahorel let out a low whistle, “Sorry, buddy,” he said, “I don't think they make cafes the way they used to.”
“Anyway – where were we?” Joly said, returning with a bottle of wine and several glasses balanced in his hands, “Oh, yeah – mercury. You know that shit'll kill you dead, right?”
“No?” Grantaire said, horrified, “Truly?”
“Good god!” Grantaire exclaimed, “And to think I used to take it for---ah, you know, nevermind that - pour me some wine!”
They went on like that for the best part of the evening, only starting to wind down their revelry when the meeting drew to a close.
Grantaire drained the rest of his glass, snickering to himself, “And she was not happy about that, let me tell you, I----”
He startled, looking up to see Enjolras standing in front of their table, arms crossed and lips pursed with disapproval. It was so reminiscent of the Enjolras he remembered that for a brief moment Grantaire was certain he was back in 1832, about to be scolded for his misconduct.
“Enjolras,” he said, half-heartedly toasting him with his now empty wine glass, “Is the meeting over?”
“It's been over for half an hour.” Enjolras told him curtly, “We have to go home.”
“But I am having fun,” Grantaire said, gesturing to Joly, Bossuet and Bahorel, “Apparently we have almost two-hundred years to catch up on!”
“Listen to him, please,” Combeferre said, appearing from seemingly nowhere beside Enjolras; of course. When had he not had his right hand man nearby?
“We still don't know exactly what's wrong with you,” Combeferre pointed out, “Drinking could make it worse – it already alters the memory, who's to say what it'll do to you in your current state?”
Joly and Bossuet exchanged a guilty look.
“Sorry,” Bossuet said.
“We didn't think,” Joly seconded, holding up his hands in surrender, “We just got carried away learning all the weird history facts.”
“Evidently so,” Combeferre said, rolling his eyes, “Okay, come on, Grantaire – get up. We've got a taxi on it's way so you don't have to get the Metro back.”
“It doesn't matter.” Enjolras said, his patience apparently spent, “Just come on.”
The ride home was dizzying – something he could not get his head around. The whole time he gazed out of the windows, dazzled by the sight of Paris at night. A thousand lights in a thousand colours, flickering and twinkling as though someone had shaken the stars from the sky and placed them on street corners and in windows. It was beautiful.
He was so enraptured by it all that he did not even notice they were home until the taxi had stopped and Enjolras was climbing out ahead of him. Grantaire scrambled across the seats to follow him, hurrying to catch up.
“Please do not walk ahead so swiftly,” he said, “I am not familiar with this Paris, after all.”
Enjolras slowed his pace but did not reply.
They made it into the apartment in silence, Enjolras kicking off his shoes and heading for the bedroom, leaving Grantaire lingering by the front door.
“Where shall I sleep tonight?” He asked.
Enjolras paused, toying with his hair, “The sofa,” he said lowly, “I'll get you some pillows and a blanket from the bedroom.”
Grantaire felt his heart sink, “Can I not sleep in our bed?” he asked, the wine making him bolder than he perhaps would have been otherwise.
Enjolras stiffened, “No,” he said, turning to fix him with a serious expression, “It's not 'our' bed, because you're not the Grantaire I know. Maybe he's in there, somewhere. I don't know. But you're a stranger, and I'm not sleeping with a stranger.”
Grantaire felt like Enjolras had just driven a knife into his chest.
“Oh,” he said, “I...of course.”
He looked down, feeling suddenly horribly sick – he could not say for sure if it were the wine or Enjolras' words that disagreed with him so, but either way, his insides did not like it one bit.
“Forgive me. You are right, certainly. You do not know me.”
Enjolras turned away from him again as though he could not stand to look at him, trembling where he stood.
“But I know you,” Grantaire added tenderly, “Even in this lifetime, you are so much the same...”
“That is not a compliment considering I was apparently a judgmental jerk in the 19th century,” Enjolras said tartly.
“I have told you – not judgmental,” Grantaire protested, feeling brave enough to take a few steps towards him, “Not cruel, not cold. Merely a force to be reckoned with.”
Enjolras let out a disparaging sound, turning on the spot when he noticed how close Grantaire had got to him.
“Why did you love him?”
“Me, I mean,” Enjolras waved it off, “If I was so...unapproachable, why did you love me?”
Despite the situation, despite the severity and the chill seizing the air between them, Grantaire laughed – a breathless, half-mad sort of sound.
“It was impossible not to.” he said.
Enjolras tilted his head, “Why, though?”
“I cannot explain it,” Grantaire said honestly, “It just was. The way the sky is blue and the grass is green. It was a fact, and that is enough. I loved you then, and I love you still – if you would only let me show you...”
“No,” Enjolras said, jerking his arm away before Grantaire could touch him, “No, I...I want my boyfriend back. Wherever he is. Your poetic words and declarations of love are well and good but it doesn't make you the man I know.”
Grantaire moved back, crestfallen, “Of course – forgive me. I will not overstep any boundaries you may put forth,” he promised, “But know that my feelings for you have not changed.”
Enjolras did not respond, instead giving a great sigh and heading in the direction of the bedroom, “I'll go get your blankets.” he said.
For the record, the song I'm listening to writing this, the song they dance to, is 'All These Things That I've Done' by The Killers! So check that out whilst reading for added ambiance.
When Enjolras woke the bed was cold; it was the second time in almost three years that he'd woken up alone, and suddenly the space between the sheets where Grantaire usually lay felt like a vast, desolate place that stretched on for miles. When they'd first got together Enjolras had fallen into Grantaire's bed almost embarrassingly quickly, and from then on he'd never left it. They'd been living together long before they'd made it official; a change of clothes here, a toothbrush there. Everyone had known they'd moved in together way before they did.
And now he was sleeping alone again.
He extended one hand, fingers tracing empty air beside him. The mattress smelled like Grantaire – like his cologne and the shampoo he used – and a few dark hairs still clung to the sheets.
It was a strange situation to find himself in; Grantaire wasn't dead, after all. He was asleep in the next room, warm and real and breathing, and it would have been the easiest thing in the world for Enjolras to invite him into bed and curl up in his arms.
But he couldn't – he couldn't, because the man sprawled out on the sofa was only Grantaire in physical form. Well, no – he was Grantaire, yes, but he was some unfamiliar version of him that Enjolras had only just met and who had memories of him that Enjolras didn't even have of himself.
He rolled over onto his back, laying his hands against his stomach; he could feel a small bump there now, though maybe he was imagining it. It was still early days, after all.
“I'm sorry,” he said aloud, “I'm sure he'll remember us soon.”
He closed his eyes, sighing quietly; this new – or old – Grantaire was a complete stranger. How was he expected to live with a stranger? To love him? To go on like everything was okay?
It was agony.
He thought back to a few days ago, sitting at the table with Courfeyrac as Combeferre and Jehan had tried to explain everything to Grantaire. What was it he'd said? That it meant they'd been together across the ages? That it had to mean something?
He frowned, turning the words over and over in his head. Maybe he was right. Maybe it was worth giving this incarnation of Grantaire a chance.
If he didn't get his memories back Enjolras would have to do something. He couldn't just cut him out of his life – not now. Hell, even if he wasn't having his baby in six months time Enjolras didn't think he'd be able to. His feelings for Grantaire weren't something he could switch on and off at will, and he had to believe – he had to – that the Grantaire he knew and loved was still in there, somewhere.
And if he wasn't, well...Enjolras would have to try and make it work.
There wasn't just him to think about now, after all.
When he stumbled tiredly out into the living room on his way to the kitchen Grantaire was already awake, sitting in the armchair with a book he'd pilfered from the shelf.
“What are you reading?” Enjolras asked, making him jump.
“Oh,” He said, setting it down with a look of chagrin, “This - it's about the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood,” he explained, “I wasn't around for their work, it was a little after my time. It is absolutely beautiful.” he paused, “You don't mind me borrowing this, do you?”
“It's your book.” Enjolras told him, heading for the kitchen.
“Yes. Do you want coffee?”
“That would be nice.”
He hadn't even finished making the coffee when Grantaire stuck his head around the doorframe, nearly frightening the life out of him.
“Do you need any help?” he offered. Enjolras wanted to laugh; Grantaire didn't know what half the stuff in the kitchen even did, how could he possibly help?
“I'm good, thanks,” He said instead, keeping Courfeyrac's words in mind. He had been harsh to him the night before, he knew, but he excused himself as much as he could. He told himself his actions were understandable. Grantaire had asked to share his bed with him after all, and hell, the 19th century was a different world; sharing a bed in the 1800's probably held a lot more weight to it than bunking with a friend did in 2018.
“What's this?” Grantaire asked suddenly, making him glance up from what he was doing.
“A radio.” Enjolras said, “It plays music.”
“Oh,” Grantaire quirked one eyebrow, smirking, “I rather like music...”
Enjolras couldn't help but smile, “Here,” he said, leaning across the counter to switch it on. He dithered between stations for a few moments, finally settling on something vaguely familiar.
“It's nice,” Grantaire said, listening intently.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Would you dance with me?”
“Dance?” Enjolras leaned back in surprise, “Really?”
“Yes – I have been told I am a fine dancer,” Grantaire said, without a hint of irony.
Enjolras hesitated, “What kind of dance?”
“I would go for La Quadrille, but there aren't enough of us,” Grantaire joked, offering him his hand, “So a waltz it shall have to be.”
Almost automatically, almost without thought entirely, Enjolras took his hand, breath hitching when Grantaire drew him close against his body.
“I don't know how to waltz,” Enjolras confessed, heart racing as he felt Grantaire's hand against his waist.
“Well, I can teach you,” Grantaire said, “Let me lead a few steps, and then you can try.”
Enjolras raised his eyebrows, “Okay...” he said, staring down at their feet as they began to move.
It was all out of place – laughable, really, a dance that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, reminiscent of every period drama Enjolras had been forced to suffer through by Courfeyrac but with an upbeat indie rock soundtrack. Grantaire did dance well, though - he hadn't been lying about that.
“This is a little fast for a waltz, admittedly,” Grantaire said after a while, trying to keep step, “The time signature is all wrong, but it'll do well enough. It's pleasant, though – the music, I mean.”
“It's 'The Killers',” Enjolras said, finally recognising the song.
“Who composed it?”
“You know the waltz is considered licentious?” Grantaire murmured against his ear, sending a shiver down Enjolras' spine.
“Really?” Enjolras laughed, “The waltz?”
“Truly,” Grantaire said, “At least, it was in 1830,” he smirked, “I do forget this is the 21st century, even with all these peculiarities. It was thought it would lead to wanton consequences.”
Enjolras snorted, amused, “Yes, this is absolutely scandalous,” he said.
Enjolras couldn't help but be charmed – he tried not to be, he really did. He grinned as Grantaire spun him around dramatically, suddenly struck with the urge to take over; he took both of Grantaire's hands in his own, leading him into a slight sway that was a bit more 21st century. Grantaire went along more than willingly, catching on quickly as they moved in tune to the beat.
“This is more entertaining that La Quadrille," he said, “I never imagined you one for dancing, Enjolras..."
“I'm not. If you tell anyone about this I'll kill you,” Enjolras said, slowing to a stop as the song came to an end; they were close, dangerously close, their faces mere inches apart. The urge to kiss him was intense, burning and desperate, but it would have felt like cheating, and Enjolras couldn't stand the thought. He swallowed hard, taking a quick step back.
“Anyway,” he said, “Coffee.”
“Oh, yes,” Grantaire said, “Coffee. Thank you.”
“So any progress?”
Enjolras stared up at the ceiling of his bedroom, “No,” he said miserably, “No progress.”
Combeferre was silent on the other end of the phone for a while, “I'm sorry, Enjolras. Jehan and I are doing some research, we're trying to find out as much as we can...”
“Uh, not really,” He said, “A lot of white women who think they're people's spirit gurus boasting about how they can help people unlock their past life memories, but that's not exactly useful to our situation. There's a lot in books about past lives and the concept of reincarnation, but not an awful lot about someone only remembering their past life – or more specifically, how to get them back. It's not like there's a Wikihow for these things.”
“Pity,” Enjolras mumbled, “Would've been useful. Have you tried YouTube?”
“Don't be ridiculous, Enjolras.”
“Of course we tried YouTube.”
Enjolras smiled slightly, “Haha. I don't know what to do, 'Ferre - 19th century Grantaire isn't awful, but he's not my Grantaire.”
“Is he proving hard to live with?”
“A bit,” Enjolras admitted, “He put a fork in the microwave and nearly blew up the apartment, and he kept trying to change the TV channel with my phone, but other than that it hasn't been too bad. He's nice. Kind of charming, actually.”
“Are you falling for your own boyfriend?” Combeferre teased.
Enjolras frowned indignantly, forgetting for a moment that Combeferre couldn't see him through the phone. He sat bolt upright on his bed, huffing, “No!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes! Okay, so we danced together today----”
“Danced?” Combeferre said, “Enjolras, I'm pretty sure that's third base in the 1830's.”
“Can you stop being terrible, please?”
“Sorry. But really, that's...nice, Enjolras. You should spend more time with him like that.”
“Yeah,” Combeferre said, “Look, I want to help R get his memories back as much as you do – but it's worth, I don't know, having a safety net in place just in case he doesn't...”
“A safety net?” Enjolras echoed.
“See if you can grow to love him,” Combeferre suggested, “Try to make a connection. He's still Grantaire – it's the same guy, just with a bit more time between you.”
Enjolras bit his lip, thinking back to that morning; he was right. There was a lot of the Grantaire he knew in the man who'd spun him around the kitchen to 'The Killers'. He had the same easy smile and bright eyes.
“I guess you might be right,” he said at last, “But no promises.”
“I don't expect it to happen overnight, Enjolras,” Combeferre said gently, “But try and see what happens. Hell, maybe spending time with him will help his memories come back. He's more likely to remember you than anything else.”
Enjolras flushed a little, “True.”
“Other than the situation with Grantaire, how are you holding up...?”
“I'm fine,” Enjolras insisted, “The morning sickness is finally starting to go away...”
“Good. Courfeyrac still wants you to name the baby after him, by the way.”
Enjolras laughed; he heard Courfeyrac give an outraged gasp in the background.
“Maybe,” he said, “That's the best I can do for now.”
There was a crackling, fumbling sound on the other end of the line, and then Courfeyrac's voice blasted into his ear, “I just think it's the least you can do considering you're making Combeferre the godfather!" he said.
“You guys are together, you'll both be godparents, technically.” Enjolras pointed out.
“Not unless we're married!”
“Guess you'll just have to get married then,” Enjolras stated.
"Goodnight, Courfeyrac," he said, grinning to himself as he hung up.
Grantaire was baffled when he woke the next morning to Enjolras setting a mug of coffee down in front of his nose. More baffling than this affectionate offering was the fact that he was smiling – actually smiling.
“Good morning,” He said, nudging Grantaire's legs in an indication to move them; Grantaire tucked them up so he could sit down on the sofa beside him.
“Yes,” He said, “Good morning...”
“I was thinking we could do something together today,” Enjolras said, sipping his coffee, “If you'd like that, anyway...”
Grantaire's heart felt like it had sprouted wings. He grinned, unable to help himself.
“Yes,” he said instantly, “Yes, of course – I would love that, Enjolras, truly.”
Enjolras nodded, “Alright,” he said, “What do you want to do? A lot has changed so we could catch you up on some stuff. See the Eiffel tower, maybe? Take a stroll on the Champs-Élysées? Something touristy.”
“Anything you'd like,” Grantaire said; he didn't care one bit where they went or what they did, only that they would be together – that Enjolras wanted to spend time with him.
Enjolras sat up suddenly, as though an idea had just come to him, “The Louvre,” he said, “You like art, right? Still? I mean – you did? I don't know...”
“Yes,” Grantaire said, “I do. I was a pupil of Gros for a time, but had not the talent to go anywhere with it myself, and spent most of my time slacking off.”
“Gros?” Enjolras blinked, taken aback, “I...wow, alright,” he said, “The Louvre it is, then. It was a museum in 1832, right?”
“Yes,” Grantaire confirmed, smiling, “I recall it quite well.”
“Well, things are very different now,” Enjolras said, “But there'll be some familiar things there, I guess.”
“Then it is perfect for us,” Grantaire decided, “A half-way point.”
Enjolras let out a small hum of amusement, “You're right,” he said, “A compromise.”
They took another taxi to the Louvre, Enjolras muttering something to himself about the difficulty of getting Grantaire anywhere on the Metro. In truth he felt half-inclined to apologise for being such a burden – it was bad enough he'd spent the last few days constantly requiring an explanation for everything he didn't understand. He imagined it was starting to get terribly tiresome.
The Louvre, at least, was a little as he remembered it.
It was shiny and new in places, with a great glass pyramid rising up out of the ground and towering over them, but he recognised parts of the building like one might recognise an old friend.
“Stay close to me,” Enjolras said, leading him in the direction of the pyramid, “It'll be busy inside. Fortunately me and 21st century Grantaire come here pretty often,” he added, fishing into his pocket to retrieve something.
“What is it?” Grantaire asked as Enjolras handed it to him.
“Your 'friend of the Louvre' card,” Enjolras told him, “It means you get priority access.”
“Oh,” Grantaire raised his eyebrows, “Well, the 21st century is strange indeed, but this at least is a pleasant surprise...”
Enjolras smirked, “I knew you were serious about our relationship when you upgraded your pass to a two-person membership,” he said, amused. Grantaire laughed.
“I am courting you well then, apparently,” he said.
“Courting?” Enjolras gave an awkward chuckle, “It's a little beyond courting at this point but we'll go with that.” he said, patting Grantaire's arm affectionately, “Now come on – this way.”
It was glorious inside – the same intricate ceilings and marble pillars he recalled so well. Walking around with Enjolras at his side was akin to a dream; despite the worlds of difference between them Grantaire was amazed to find a strange, easy warmth settle over them both.
They talked of everything, sharing in quiet jokes and comfortable silences. It was divine.
They walked for hours, visiting exhibition after exhibition until they'd been lost three times and Enjolras needed to rest on a bench.
“My feet are hurting,” He complained, kicking his shoes off without any shame, “I need to sit down for a while...”
“Of course – as long as you need,” Grantaire said, sitting down beside him, “Thank you for bringing me here today, Enjolras. Truly. This has been delightful.”
“I had a wonderful time too,” Enjolras said, smiling, “It was nice. Kind of interesting to have a 19th century perspective on a lot of the art, too...”
“I have a lot of opinions,” Grantaire laughed.
“Glad to see that's the way you've always been, then,” Enjolras said, bringing one leg up onto the bench so he could rub his foot.
“Are you alright?” Grantaire asked.
“Yes, I'm fine – don't worry about it,” Enjolras said, waving his concerns away like he was swatting a fly, “My shoes are just – uncomfortable.”
“We need not walk around any more today,” Grantaire soothed, feeling bold enough to lay one hand gently on his, “We can call a – a taxi?”
“You're getting it,” Enjolras smirked, “Thank you.”
“You are very welcome. I am your humble servant, Monsieur,” Grantaire said playfully.
“How lucky I am, then.” Enjolras hummed.
“I am the lucky one,” Grantaire said, “That you would even give me the chance when I am a stranger to you astounds me...”
“You aren't a total stranger,” Enjolras murmured, putting his foot down again, “I thought you were when you were rambling about cannons and muskets, but these last few days, well...” he shrugged, “I'm seeing more of the Grantaire that I know than I thought I would...”
“I am glad,” Grantaire said softly, “Because I see a lot of the Enjolras that I know.”
“I still don't know if that's a compliment,” Enjolras said, tilting his head, “Come on, then – let's go.”
Grantaire offered him his hand, pulling him up off the bench, “I'll let you call the taxi,” he said, “I am still not sure how on earth the process works. It amazes me – you summon it and then it comes!”
“I'll give you a lesson in using a phone some other time,” Enjolras said, taking his hand as they walked towards the nearest exist.
“This was nice,” he added, almost as though to himself, “We should do it again sometime.”
“We should. I'd like that very much. I confess I did not have much keeping me going in 1832,” Grantaire said, ducking his head, “I had friends and places that I frequented, yes, but little else. A rotten family life and no lover that went beyond a drunken fling.”
Enjolras laced their fingers tightly together; Grantaire felt his heart flutter at the contact.
“I'm sorry if I rebuffed you,” he said, “1832 me must have been a fool.”
“You didn't rebuff me, not really,” Grantaire said, “I never made my affections known to you – not that I believe you would have ever returned them.”
“I return them in this lifetime,” Enjolras said fiercely, “You have a lot to live for in the 21st century. Not just me – you have friends and talent and hobbies and so, so much...” he glanced down, seeming suddenly unexpectedly coy.
“And, well,” he paused, stopping in his tracks, “Combeferre told me to leave it a while before I told you this, but the Grantaire I'm used to was so happy about it, so...” he brought Grantaire's hand to his stomach, pressing it there with his own.
“You also have this to look forward to.”
“I----what do you mean? I...” he stared down at his hand, eyes growing wide as realisation sunk in, making his blood run cold, “You are...?”
“Yes,” Enjolras beamed, “Fourteen weeks - give or take a few days.”
He drew back his hand as though it had been burned, and as he did he saw the smile drop from Enjolras' face.
“What's wrong?” he said, “Grantaire---”
“This is terrible!”
Enjolras looked as though he'd just slapped him.
“Terrible?” He breathed.
“Yes! I have ruined you!” Grantaire cried, “I have absolutely ruined you!”
“Wha---what the hell do you mean?!” Enjolras said, his anguish turning almost immediately into outrage.
“We are not married!” Grantaire pointed out, certain that he was losing his mind – how could Enjolras not understand? How could he actually be happy about his predicament?
It was a scandal.
“We are not married.” He repeated, “Your reputation will be in tatters because of my actions!”
The solution was simple; he had to right this wrong, he had to see to it the child had a name.
He could not, would not, allow Enjolras to fall into wreck and ruin because of his lecherous behaviour.
Almost instinctively Grantaire dropped onto one knee where he stood, grabbing Enjolras' hand.
“Marry me.” he said, “Before your condition becomes so obvious as to invite criticism.”
“You---” Enjolras seemed unable to move or even react, his mouth hanging open but no words coming out.
“Are you serious?” He said, his voice cold when it at last returned to him, “Are you actually serious right now?! Marry you?”
“Yes. Of course.” Grantaire said, “You do not want to appear to have loose morals, do you?”
“Loose mora---Grantaire!” Enjolras pulled his hand free viciously.
They had drawn a crowd now, prying onlookers stopping to see what was going on.
“You are asking me to marry you because I'm pregnant?”
“Naturally!” Grantaire said, desperate to make him see sense, “It is my responsibility!”
“Your responsibility?” Enjolras did not seem to like that, for he took a step back, face twisted in anger, “No!”
“No?” Grantaire echoed, completely lost, “I...no? Why? A marriage proposal should please you.”
“This doesn't please me in the slightest!”
“But you have to marry me, Enjolras! Otherwise you shall be seen as a fallen---man.”
That was a phrase he'd never had to use before.
“It is 2018!" Enjolras snarled, “And I'm not marrying you under these circumstances – or ever, if this continues.” he spun on his heel, storming away through the throng of people. Grantaire watched him go, heart sinking like a stone.
“How will I get back to the apartment?” He called after him pitifully, “I don't know how to---”
“I'll text someone to come get you,” Enjolras snapped, “But I'm not going home. I need to clear my head.”
Grantaire remained there for a moment, kneeling in the middle of the Louvre as people passed by, eyebrows raised at the spectacle they had just witnessed.
“Enjolras,” he said, but by now he had disappeared into the crowd, blonde hair lost among the countless faces of strangers.
Enjolras was a mess when he finally turned up on Combeferre and Courfeyrac's doorstep, hair windswept from the Metro and his cheeks streaked with tears.
“Can I come in?” He croaked when Courfeyrac opened the door.
“Uh - sure,” Courfeyrac said, visibly surprised by the state of him - Enjolras couldn't blame him. He must have looked like shit, but fortunately Courfeyrac was kind enough not to point it out. He didn't need to, anyway - Enjolras was well aware of how he looked.
“I'll, uh, go make coffee,” Courfeyrac said, stepping aside to let him into the apartment, “'Ferre is in the living room, go right on through...”
Enjolras sniffled, wiping his face angrily, “Thank you,” he said.
“Always,” Courfeyrac said, expression softening, “I'll be with you in a few minutes.”
Combeferre looked like he was wrestling with a particularly vexing assignment when Enjolras padded into the living room like a zombie - either that or he was in the throes of a very heated online debate. It certainly wouldn't have been the first time.
“Are you fighting with someone about the regional differences between cryptids again?” He asked to get his attention. Combeferre glanced up over the top of his laptop screen, adjusting his glasses.
“Enjolras,” he said, his expression darkening when he got a good look at him.
“Oh,” he said, “Something's wrong.”
“Yeah,” Enjolras nodded, “Something's wrong. I'm sorry to interrupt, I just didn't know where else to go...”
Combeferre closed his computer, setting it aside, “You're always welcome here, Enjolras,” he reminded him, shuffling up along the sofa so that Enjolras could sit down next to him.
Enjolras sighed, fiddling anxiously with his thumbs, “I told Grantaire about the baby.”
Combeferre, to his credit, didn't launch into an immediate tirade about how he'd specifically told Enjolras not to do that. Instead he frowned, laying one hand on Enjolras'.
“And it didn't go well?” he guessed.
“No.” Enjolras said, “It really, really didn't.”
“He asked me to marry him.”
“I---what?” Combeferre removed his hand, looking at Enjolras like he'd just grown another head, “He asked you to---”
“Yeah. Because of the baby,” Enjolras clarified, “Only because of the baby. He kept going on about it being his responsibility or some shit...”
The confusion melted out of Combeferre's eyes instantly.
“Oh,” he said, “Well that's not so bad...”
“Are you kidding me?!” Enjolras hissed, turning on him, “He asked me to marry him!”
“He asked me to marry him! Right there in the Louvre. With people watching!”
Combeferre sighed, “I know it may have seemed insensitive, Enjolras---”
“Insensitive?!” Enjolras said, voice jumping up about three octaves, “He said he'd ruined me, Combeferre! Like I'm a shirt he spilled wine on!”
“You need to start looking at things through a historical lens, Enjolras,” Combeferre insisted, laying his hands firmly on his shoulders, “To Grantaire this is a huge deal.”
“In the nineteeth century you'd lose everything if you had a child out of wedlock,” Combeferre said, “Grantaire is doing what he thinks is right by you. He was trying to save you, in his eyes, from becoming a social pariah – from your child becoming a social pariah, too!”
“What am I supposed to do, then?” Enjolras said, bristling, “Marry him, to ease his 1800's conscience?”
“No,” Combeferre rolled his eyes, “We just need to sit him down and talk to him – explain how it's not that big of a deal in this day and age. You yelling at him in the Louvre probably didn't help the matter.”
“How do you know I yelled?”
“Enjolras, give me some credit,” Combeferre said, arching one eyebrow.
Enjolras shrank slightly, feeling himself burn with shame. He knew he was right – it had been unnecessary. And leaving him there, abandoning him – that had been particularly foolish - cruel, even, given that Grantaire still did not understand the 21st century. But he'd been hurt, teetering on the verge of tears, and Enjolras refused to cry in public.
“I know,” he said weakly, “I know you're right, 'Ferre. But it was insulting...”
“I'm sure it was,” Combeferre agreed, “Because you're not from the nineteenth century and marriage is different now. But Grantaire – this Grantaire – he's from a different time. He doesn't want to see you end up in the gutter.”
Enjolras felt himself deflate; he couldn't deny that. He knew enough of history to know the real reason Grantaire had leapt to propose, but it had still hurt. The words he'd used, the things he'd implied – it had been like twisting the knife that the whole situation had already lodged in his chest.
“You're right. Fuck.” he looked down, “I guess I overreacted.”
“It's understandable,” Combeferre said, “But someone needs to give Grantaire a crash course in the progression of society.”
“Well I can---”
“Someone who isn't directly involved in the situation,” Combeferre corrected, giving him a sheepish smile, “Sorry, but you're prone to being quite passionate, and right now we need someone level-headed.”
“I guess you're volunteering your time, then?” Enjolras guessed.
“I will if you want.”
Combeferre threw one arm around him, drawing him into a hug, “We'll figure this all out, I promise,” he said, “Try to look at this whole mess in a positive light; Grantaire must really love you, nineteenth century or not. There was a lot of assholes out there who'd just run out on someone if they got them pregnant. If he didn't care about you and the baby he could've just yeeted straight out of there.”
Enjolras scrunched up his nose, “Did you just say 'yeeted'?”
“I'm so sorry. I live with Courfeyrac.”
Enjolras raised one eyebrow, “Guess I'm not the only one who's been ruined by my relationship.”
“I've picked up some of his vocabulary,” Combeferre agreed.
“And what's wrong with my vocabulary?” Courfeyrac asked, peering around the door, “Language is changing and developing all the time 'Ferre, you know that.”
“You're right of course, dear,”
“Are you holding up okay, Enj?” Courfeyrac said, passing him a mug; Enjolras took it gratefully, warming his hands around it.
“Okay, I think,” he said, “I told Grantaire about the baby and he asked me to marry him to stop me falling into ruin.”
“Oh, shit,” Courfeyrac blinked, “Fuck.”
“So when's the wedding?”
“Haha,” Enjolras said dryly, “There's not going to be a wedding.”
“Heh, well, that isn't strictly true,” Courfeyrac said, grinning bashfully.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” Courfeyrac sat himself down on the arm of the sofa, taking Combeferre's hand and glancing at him somewhat dreamily, “What you said on the phone the other night...”
“Yeah,” Combeferre smiled, “We were going to wait until all this drama with Grantaire blew over to tell you, but...we're going to elope.”
“Elope?!” Enjolras said, “But---I...well, I always imagined you'd want a big blowout wedding, Courf...”
“I mean, it'd be nice,” Courfeyrac shrugged, “But more than that I just want to marry 'Ferre. So we're going to run away together and come back married. We'll still have a big party though, don't worry.”
“Oh. Well, at least someone is having good news,” Enjolras said; despite everything he was going through it was impossible not to be happy for them.
Hell, it had been too stressful getting them together not to be - despite Combeferre's logical mind and Courfeyrac's outgoing personality they had been very set on denying they had feelings for each other. They'd been almost as bad as he and Grantaire.
'What if it ruins our friendship?' they'd each said to Enjolras on separate occasions. He'd wanted to bash their heads together;.
How things had changed.
“What are you going to do about Grantaire?” Courfeyrac asked, derailing his train of thought.
“Oh - Combeferre is going to come with me and explain the situation,” Enjolras told him.
“Good. Where is he?”
“Ah, at the Louvre. Well, he might be home by now, I don't know---”
“You just left him there?!” Combeferre cried, “Enjolras, he thinks he's from the nineteenth century!”
“It's okay!” Enjolras cut in quickly, “Really! I texted Jehan to go find him.”
Both Courfeyrac and Combeferre visibly sagged with relief.
“Don't scare us like that!” Courfeyrac argued, “Geez!”
“Sorry,” Enjolras said, taking a sip of his drink; he gagged, instantly spitting it back into the mug.
“Urgh – what is this?”
“It's herbal tea, you heathen,” Courfeyrac said indignantly, taking the mug back from him as though he was personally offended on it's behalf.
“You said coffee!”
“And then I remembered that you're knocked up,” Courfeyrac said, “I'm not giving you coffee, it's bad for you!”
He stayed at Combeferre and Courfeyrac's for hours, sandwiched between them on the sofa as they watched Netflix and plied Enjolras with icecream.
Only when they were halfway through season two of 'Stranger Things' did it suddenly occur to Enjolras that he should probably go home.
Jehan was still there when he and Combeferre got to the apartment, a small blessing; Enjolras didn't want to think about the state the place might be in if Grantaire had been left alone there. He'd tried to put the kettle in the fridge the night before.
"Grantaire?" He said, watching as he froze like a rabbit in car headlights.
He jumped to his feet, taking a frantic step towards him.
“Enjolras,” he said, “May we talk, please?”
“We should,” Enjolras nodded, gesturing to Combeferre, “That's why I called in reinforcements.”
“Reinforcements?” Grantaire echoed, looking to Combeferre with alarm, “Are we to duel?”
“Due---no!” Enjolras said, mortified, “Fucking hell – I just mean he's going to help me explain things to you. He's better at these sorts of things than I am, that's all.”
“Ah,” Grantaire gave a very obvious sigh of relief, “Thank god,” he said, “I think he would beat me.”
“Probably,” Combeferre agreed, a little more smug than he should have been, “Okay, sit down – we need to have a serious discussion about social norms. Enjolras, why don't you sit next to Grantaire...”
Enjolras did as he was told.
“So,” Combeferre started carefully, “Enjolras tells me you, uh, made him an offer of marriage...?”
“Yes,” Grantaire said pitifully, “I want to do right by him! For all my jokes I am not a scoundrel, Monsieur – I will accept my responsibility.”
Enjolras stiffened; he felt Combeferre's hand on his arm, a silent request not to interrupt.
“I understand that,” he said diplomatically, “And it's good that you want to be sure Enjolras' reputation is not tarnished – but this is 2018, and things have progressed a little since your day.”
Grantaire's brows came together in confusion, “How so?”
“Having a child out of wedlock no longer carries the serious social stigma it used to. There's a little prejudice here and there – mostly for single mothers – but it is not something Enjolras will be cast out of society for.”
“No. A lot of couples have children and live together quite happily without ever getting married. It's not really that big of a deal.”
“Oh,” Grantaire said, understanding slowly creeping into his expression, “Then...I feel I may have offended you,” he said, turning to Enjolras.
“A bit.” Enjolras said through gritted teeth, “Being told you're 'ruined' is not what someone wants to hear when they tell their partner they're pregnant.”
Grantaire flinched, “Forgive me,” he said, “I did not mean anything bad by it – I was merely worried I had done you wrong.”
“Well you haven't,” Enjolras said, “It's fine – it's not a problem. We were happy about it...”
“Yes! You especially – you were ecstatic. You've always wanted kids and you were afraid to tell me because you thought I didn't.”
Grantaire smiled sadly, “That sounds quite like me,” he conceded.
“Good.” Enjolras said, “It should. You were ridiculously happy when I told you – and when I said I wanted to keep it.”
“It wasn't planned, though?”
“Well, no,” Enjolras confessed, feeling his cheeks grow hot, “I thought I couldn't get pregnant because of the testosterone, so we got a bit...reckless. And, well – I was wrong, clearly.”
It was a bit embarrassing talking about this with both Combeferre and Jehan within earshot; he'd already received an exhaustive lecture from Combeferre about safe sex and why testosterone couldn't be counted as a reliable form of contraception.
“Well,” Grantaire sat back, absorbing everything he'd just been told, “I...I do love children,”
At that Enjolras felt a small flame of hope ignite in his chest.
“Yeah?” He said, “Do you think you could be happy about this, then?”
“I am happy,” Grantaire said firmly, “Please do not mistake my concern for misery, Enjolras. I am overjoyed.”
He hesitated a moment, and then reached to take his hand; Enjolras did not pull away despite his first instinct, instead relaxing into the sensation of his fingers interlocking with Grantaire's. It felt right. It felt familiar.
“Well,” Jehan said, rubbing his hands together and getting to his feet, “Seems like everything has worked out well. We should probably leave you to it, then. Right, Combeferre?”
“Oh – yes, of course,” Combeferre cleared his throat, standing, “If you need me, Enjolras, don't hesitate to message me...”
“I think I'll be okay,” Enjolras said, and for the first time since all of this had started, he thought perhaps, maybe, he would be.
A half-comfortable silence settled over them once Combeferre and Prouvaire had taken their leave - the sort of silence that was tempting to break but remained pleasant enough to endure.
They had said very little in the hour that followed, Enjolras opting to switch the television on to check the news. It was still a wonder to Grantaire how far technology had come – and how much the world had remained the same. As they watched the news he saw war, famine, and suffering flashing across the screen the same likes of which he had witnessed in 1832.
Nothing had changed – not really.
“It's terrible, isn't it?” Enjolras said after a while, as though reading his mind, “The state of the world?”
“Yes,” Grantaire said, mouth painfully dry, “Truly terrible.”
Enjolras gave a barely perceivable nod, almost to himself, “I am going to fix as much of it as I can.” he vowed. A look crossed his face as he spoke – a look so reminiscent of the Enjolras that Grantaire remembered that it felt as though he could have been back in his own century. It was easy to imagine the apartment melting away behind him to reveal the Corinth as it had been that day in June. This Enjolras was different in some regards, softer in unexpected ways, but it was still disturbingly easy for Grantaire's mind to place a carbine in his hands. There was fire in his eyes, a fire that had burned for hundreds of years and that he was sure would burn for hundreds more. It made Grantaire's insides curdle like spoiled milk.
“Anyway,” Enjolras said suddenly, wrenching him out of his thoughts, “I think that's enough for tonight. I'm going to bed - I'm exhausted. Three guesses as to who's fault that is,” he added, gesturing to his stomach. Grantaire couldn't help but smile.
“I'm tired too,” he said, “Goodnight, Enjolras.”
“Yeah...” Enjolras said, frowning; his gaze went to the sofa, his expression unexpectedly troubled, “Are you sure you're okay out here? The sofa looks...uncomfortable.”
“Not at all,” Grantaire assured him, “It is more comfortable than what I remember sleeping on, at any rate. Do not worry yourself on my behalf.”
Enjolras smiled weakly, “That's good to know but I meant----well,” he cleared his throat awkwardly, “I meant that if you want you could...well...sleep in our bed tonight...”
“Our bed?” Grantaire said, certain that he had heard him wrong.
“Yes,” Enjolras said, “Not in...that way," he added quickly, "Don't try anything.”
“I wouldn't dare,” Grantaire said earnestly, “We did have manners in the 19th century, you know...”
Enjolras' whole face turned scarlet, “I know that,” he said indignantly, “But I just...didn't want you to get the wrong idea. No miscommunications or anything.”
“If it will put your mind at ease I vow to be as chaste as a nun in your presence,” Grantaire said, drawing a cross over his heart with one finger, “I swear it.”
“If only you'd employed that mindset fourteen weeks ago,” Enjolras said, smirking a little, “Okay – I'll, uh, meet you in bed, then...you'll probably want to shower or something, I imagine...”
“Oh, yes,” Grantaire nodded enthusiastically, “Of all the modern wonders you've shown me these last few days, I think I like your showers the most.” he laughed.
He spent longer in the shower than he probably ought have; by the time he was done the whole bathroom was filled with so much steam he could barely see two feet in front of him and the walls were dripping with water. It wasn't his fault, he told himself – such things were still a novelty to him, and the feel of hot, clean water on his skin was a manner of bliss he did not think he would ever get used to. There had been a vague attempt at devising such things in his time, yes, but they were poorly executed in comparison to this. He made a mental note to inquire to Combeferre as to how it all worked; there was no use being in his unique position if he did not use the time to learn new things.
When he finally ventured into the bedroom with a towel around his waist he found Enjolras already tucked up in bed with a book and – spectacles? Since when had he needed those?
It was the things such as this that Grantaire found the most fascinating. These small discoveries made him wonder if Enjolras – his Enjolras – had required them as well. He had never seen him with them, but then he had never asked, nor had the privilege of seeing him in his own private quarters like this.
“What are you reading?” he asked, removing the towel to dry his hair.
Enjolras glanced up, colour draining rapidly out of his face.
“Oh god,” he cried, moving to shield his eyes with one hand.
Grantaire scowled, stunned, “What's the matter?”
“You're naked, that's what!” Enjolras exclaimed, the tips of his ears turning red, “Here, put some clothes on,” he begged, practically hurling Grantaire's nightclothes at him.
“Oh – forgive me. I am sorry if I caused insult,” Grantaire said, scrambling to dress himself, “I did not think it would be cause for distress under the circumstances...”
“No, no, it's fine,” Enjolras said, sounding as though it were not fine at all, “Are you dressed?”
“Okay. Good. I'm sorry, I – it's my fault.” he said, “It's just that – well, physically you're still very much the Grantaire I know. The Grantaire I'm stupidly attracted to, and...”
It was Grantaire's turn to blush now.
“Oh,” he said, hastily pulling up the bottom half of his nightclothes, “I didn't think. Forgive me...”
“It's fine!” Enjolras repeated, “Really. Just get into bed - and keep your wet hair off my pillow, please.”
Grantaire did as he said, watching as Enjolras removed his spectacles, set down his book, and then leant across to turn out the light.
They lay side by side in the dark, Grantaire flat on his back with his hands folded politely across his stomach.
“So,” he began, unsure of how to break the awkward silence that had followed his nakedness, “This is our bedroom.”
“Where we both sleep. Together.”
Grantaire still couldn't quite wrap his mind around the fact he shared this apartment, this room, this bed with Enjolras. Had there not been sufficient evidence in the form of the child in Enjolras' belly Grantaire would have thought this all some bizarre, absinthe induced dream.
The idea that he and Enjolras – he and Enjolras – were close in such a way was near impossible to comprehend. For all that this modern incarnation of Enjolras claimed to love him Grantaire still could not help but feel that he had debased him in some way. Enjolras was not something that should ever be touched by mortal hands, let alone mortal-- well. The point stood firm; he should not have been lowering himself to the likes of him.
“The child,” Grantaire started, turning his head on the pillow to look at him; a little moonlight – or was it from the streetlamps? - streamed into the room from the gap between the curtains, making soft, hazy lines of Enjolras' features.
“Yes?” Enjolras said, glancing sidelong at him.
His expression darkened instantly, “Yes. Why? What are you trying to say?”
“Nothing!” Grantaire said instantly, feeling his heart starting to race, “I pray, please, do not misunderstand! I would never suggest you wanton or unfaithful! I am merely amazed, that is all...”
“Good,” Enjolras snapped, crossing his arms over his chest, “Because of course it's your baby. I'd never even kissed anyone else before we got together.”
Grantaire blinked, “I was your first lover?”
“Yes,” Enjolras said, fidgeting uncomfortably, “I was an awkward mess.”
“Tell me about it?” Grantaire pleaded, “Please?”
“What, you want the details of your own conquest?”
“No, I,” Grantaire shook his head, “I do not remember anything of our time together in this lifetime, Enjolras. Please – fill me in on what I have missed. Even that.”
Enjolras was silent for a long time, as though struggling to come to a decision, and then sighed.
“Okay,” he said, “Do you want me to start from the beginning with us?”
“That would be delightful. How did we meet?”
“Bahorel brought you to a meeting,” Enjolras said quietly, “You'd been boxing together and he thought you might like it...”
“It's strange, you know – that's rather how I remember it too,” Grantaire commented, rolling onto his side so that he could look at him properly. He had never thought he might get to study Enjolras so closely, so intimately. The little crease between his brows when he spoke, the way his lips moved - he was captivating. He hoped 21st century Grantaire told him that often.
“He said that he thought I might enjoy the fine company.”
“Yeah?” Enjolras smiled wryly, “That seems about right,” he said, “Anyway, you came along – and you hit it off with everyone right away. Except me, actually,” he looked a little guilty, “I thought you were disruptive.”
“I am certain you were correct.” Grantaire said diplomatically, “To my best recollection I was always rather prone to such things.”
Enjolras chuckled to himself, “You were a bit of an asshole,” he agreed, “But everyone seemed to like you, and you kept coming back again and again...” he rolled his eyes, “Eventually you were just part of our friend group, like you'd always been there.”
“What did you think of me?”
Enjolras let out a disparaging sound, “Do you really want to know?” he joked.
Grantaire laughed, “Ah, no – never mind that. I think that answer will suffice.”
“I didn't actively dislike you,” Enjolras put in swiftly, as though determined he should not get the wrong idea, “But you frustrated me to no end. And it went on like that forever, but...uh...well, our friends started to say we were flirting, and I guess they were right...”
Grantaire grinned, unable to help himself, “You grew to find me appealing, then...?”
“Don't sound so smug about it,” Enjolras scolded, though there was a fond look twinkling in his eyes, the sort of look Grantaire had never thought he would see directed at him. It made his heart feel full.
“Forgive me,” he said, “But you must allow me a bit of an ego.”
They continued talking like that for hours, Enjolras filling in every missing detail of their lives together. It was amazing, in truth, the adventures they had had – not just together, no, but with their friends also. There were things he remembered - albeit somewhat differently - and things that were entirely new to him. Sometimes they overlapped or interwove in ways that were hard to pick apart, but every new thing he learned filled his chest with warmth until it felt like he might burst.
“So, ah, our first time – as lovers,” Grantaire dared, raising one eyebrow, “It was good, I hope? You were well pleased?”
“Kind of,” Enjolras said, suddenly smirking to himself, “Actually it was a bit of a disaster, to be perfectly honest...”
“We were both nervous,” he explained, “I think people expect their first sexual experience to be romantic but it...wasn't like that. I was clumsy and we had to stop twice because I kept getting a leg cramp. Eventually we just gave up and laughed about it.”
“Ah,” Grantaire snickered, “Well...not everyone is blessed with beginners luck, I suppose...”
“We, ah, improved though, I hope?”
“Definitely. The second time was much better...”
“Yeah,” Enjolras said, blushing brightly, “Courfeyrac totally guessed what I was going over to your place for and made me do warm-up stretches before I went.”
Grantaire raised his eyebrows, unable to contain the laughter that left his body, “Truly?”
“Did they work?”
“Well, I didn't get a leg cramp.”
Grantaire grinned at that, “Good. Anyway, uh...I'm sure you're sick of explaining all this to me,” he said, remembering himself suddenly; it was very late, and Enjolras probably ought to have been resting in his delicate condition.
“I'm sorry to have kept you awake so long.”
“It's alright,” Enjolras said, sounding agonisingly sincere about it, “I'm not sick of explaining anything. You're nice to talk to.”
“Yeah. You're...almost my Grantaire, in a lot of ways,” Enjolras said, and suddenly the brightness in his eyes faded and he looked away, “Not quite, but almost.”
Grantaire felt his stomach turn over, “Well. We should most likely sleep, now..."
“We should.” Enjolras said. There was a tense pause, a moment of heavy, suffocating silence, and then to Grantaire's surprise he reached one hand out across the mattress to touch his fingers lightly to his.
The contact was brief and tentative, sending a peculiar feeling tingling all through Grantaire's arm. The familiarity of his fingertips should have been stranger than it was, but to Grantaire it felt as though his skin had memory - whole lifetimes of it.
“Goodnight, Grantaire,” Enjolras said, moving his hand back before he had a chance to react.
Grantaire swallowed the lump in his throat, flexing his fingers almost unconsciously, “Yes,” he said, “And you.”
Over a month passed and no progress was made.
Well, no progress in the sense of Grantaire's memories coming back, anyway – there was plenty of progress in other areas, Enjolras noted. In the space of a month Grantaire had stopped turning their bathroom into a mini-sauna every time he showered and learned how to cook instant meals in the microwave, though he did still stare at it like it was the most astonishing thing he'd ever seen.
He was doing well at adjusting, all things considered, and secretly Enjolras couldn't help but feel bizarrely proud of every mundane achievement.
He'd managed to commandeer Enjolras' phone and send a message to the group chat a week ago; it was full of typos and according to Courfeyrac he 'needed to work on his understanding of emojis' after sending a laugh-crying face to Joly when he announced that his fish had died, but it was still good. He no longer tried to put the kettle in the fridge and he'd even figured out the television.
Yes, Grantaire was making leaps and bounds as far as figuring out the 21st century went – but when it came to remembering his life?
No songs that rang familiar, no flash of deja vu, not a single flicker of recognition in his eyes when Enjolras talked about their life together. It seemed like 19th century Grantaire was here to stay indefinitely. Enjolras didn't really know how he felt about that.
He wanted his Grantaire back, of course - the Grantaire he knew, the Grantaire he'd first fallen in love with, the Grantaire who cooked him breakfast in bed, sang along to every song on the radio and argued with him about politics at every turn.
He wanted him back, but he was starting to realise something that only further complicated this whole mess; he didn't want this Grantaire to go away for that to happen.
He was charming and thoughtful and very much like his Grantaire in a lot of ways. A little antiquated, perhaps, but that was only to be expected, right? He kissed Enjolras' hand like a gentleman and spoke with an eloquent flourish that you couldn't help but be captivated by. Enjolras would miss him if he woke up one morning to find him gone.
Which brought him to what he was doing now, hovering awkwardly outside Jehan Prouvaire's apartment building and waiting to be buzzed in.
He needed answers from an expert – and Jehan was about the closest thing to an expert as he was going to find at short notice.
“So what brings you to my humble abode on this fine morning?” Jehan asked, handing him a cup of jasmine tea when once was sat on the sofa. Enjolras didn't have the heart to tell him he didn't like it; it had already been waiting for him when he'd got there, as if Jehan had been expecting him. It was sort of creepy the way he managed to do that.
Enjolras had never been in Jehan's home before. It was a tiny studio apartment with barely enough elbow room for two people and so never designated for movie nights, meetings or any other Les Amis social gatherings. As a result, very few of them had ever actually seen inside – and probably with good reason, Enjolras was starting to realise.
Every inch of space was crammed with plant-life, stacks of books and curious trinkets. A taxidermy fox took up most of what looked like it had once been a dining table, and there were so many candles scattered around the room that Enjolras thought perhaps the 19th century part of Jehan had gotten a little too familiar with the interior design.
“I have questions,” he said, trying to ignore the fox – it was definitely staring at him.
"About what?" Jehan asked, following his gaze, "About Voltaire?"
"It has a name?"
Jehan wrinkled his nose, "Of course he does," he said, visibly offended, "What do you take me for?"
"Sorry - no, not about the fox," Enjolras said, “About the situation with Grantaire,"
“I guessed as much,” Jehan shrugged, “Fire away, then,” he said, busying himself with watering the venus fly trap on the coffee table.
“Well...when you got your 19th century memories back,” Enjolras began, uncertain how to proceed, “You didn't lose any of your current memories, the way R did?”
“No,” Jehan confirmed, “I didn't.”
“Do you have any idea why he did?”
“Shock, maybe? It's a weird experience, honestly,” Jehan said, “I think I only hung onto my memories because I was open to the idea to begin with. If you had no idea what was going on I can totally see someone's brain freaking out and pressing delete on a lot of stuff.”
Enjolras frowned, staring down into his tea, “Oh,” he said, not sure what to follow with. Jehan shot him a sympathetic look, moving to join him on the sofa.
“How are you holding up with all this?” he asked.
“I don't know,” Enjolras confessed, “It's still all very strange.”
“Obviously,” Jehan nodded, “It's not every day this kind of thing happens, but if it's any consolation I do think his memories will come back eventually – it's more a matter of 'when' than 'if' in my opinion. Amnesia and things like this are often temporary.”
“Really?” Enjolras glanced up, feeling a spark of hope ignite in his chest, “You think so?”
“I could be wrong,” Jehan said, holding up his hands, “But that's what I personally think,"
“Well that's promising, at least...” Enjolras said, a horribly guilty feeling suddenly settling in the pit of his stomach, "On that subject, Jehan, uh...there was actually something else I wanted your advice about...”
“If he does get his memories back,” Enjolras said slowly, averting his gaze, “Do you think he'll lose all his 19th century memories? Or will he keep them, like you did?”
Jehan sipped his tea, “I don't know. Does it matter?”
Yes, it matters, a voice in Enjolras' head screamed.
“I'm not sure,” he said instead, trying to appear nonchalant about it all, “I was just...curious, I guess...”
“Do I need a reason?” Enjolras said.
Jehan narrowed his eyes thoughtfully, cocking his head to one side; his expression softened, a look of realisation coming over him, “Oh, Enjolras...” he said, “You like this R, huh?”
“I----well,” Enjolras stiffened, spluttering slightly, “I mean – he's nice. Of course I like him, I just---”
“Are you falling for him?”
Enjolras' cheeks turned beet red, “No!” he said, scrambling to recover his dignity, “I couldn't be. I wouldn't let myself. It would feel like cheating.”
“But you are,” Jehan said, entirely too knowingly for Enjolras' liking, “And you feel guilty about it."
“I....” Enjolras trailed off, shoulders sagging with defeat. What was the use even trying to lie at this point? Jehan had always been freakishly observant.
“Of course I feel guilty," he whispered.
“So you are falling for him?”
“I guess,” Enjolras admitted, clutching his teacup tightly with both hands, “I just...he's sweet. Still infuriating, but sweet. He's a lot like the Grantaire I'm used to, just...off, ever so slightly. I like him - and I don't like the thought of him just disappearing if his memories come back. It'd feel like murdering him. This Grantaire hasn't done anything wrong...”
“Whatever happens happens, Enjolras,” Jehan said gently, “You can't change it,"
“I know, but...I'd miss him,” Enjolras admitted, feeling shame burn up the back of his neck like a rash, "Is that being unfaithful?"
Jehan reached across to take his hand, squeezing it tightly, “No - Enjolras, no. You need to try and stop seeing him as a different person. He's the same Grantaire, just a little out of place."
"A lot out of place," Enjolras argued, "It's one-hundred-and-eighty-six years, Jehan..."
"Okay, a lot out of place - but you get the idea. He's Grantaire - your Grantaire."
Enjolras sighed, "I know, I...I'll try," he said, "But you don't think he'll lose any memories if he gets his others back, do you?"
Jehan shook his head, "I kept my memories – from both lifetimes,” he reminded him, “That might end up being the case with R. Don't lose hope – for either version of him.”
Enjolras sucked in a deep breath, nodding, “You're right, sorry. I'm being ridiculous. I'm not normally so emotional, it's the hormones---”
“Don't be sorry. You're allowed to feel things, Enjolras.” Jehan said, a scolding edge to his voice, “It's healthy. It's normal.”
“I guess you're right...”
“Of course I'm right,” Jehan scoffed, “You need an emotional outlet – ooh, maybe you should write poetry!”
Enjolras grimaced, “Ah, I'm good, thanks...” he said, “Do I look like the poetry writing type?”
“Uh, no – good point,” Jehan snickered, “Well, don't say I didn't try. Are you feeling better now, anyway?”
“A bit,” Enjolras smiled.
“Then my work here is done.” Jehan said proudly, giving a little bow, “You're welcome. What's the plan for the rest of the day?”
“We're going to the hospital,” Enjolras told him, “For a scan...”
“Oh!” Jehan's whole face lit up, his eyes growing bright, “That's lovely! You have to show us all at the meeting tonight!”
“I will,” Enjolras promised, “I have no idea how it's going to go. I've spent the last week warning Grantaire that it's going to blow his mind. They didn't even fully understand how long a pregnancy was supposed to be in the 1830's, so that he'll be able to see the baby is going to be...something.”
“It'll go fine,” Jehan said, “I know it. Anyway, finish your tea! I spent good money on that stuff, it's Fair-trade loose-leaf.”
Enjolras braced himself, downing it in a few large gulps and shuddering at the taste, “It's lovely,” he lied, trying not to gag. He glanced down and scowled.
“Does the bottom of this teacup say 'you've been poisoned'?”
“It's a novelty teacup, don't worry,” Jehan said, waving the thought away, “I wouldn't really poison you. That's a cowardly way to murder someone - I'd be much more upfront about it.”
Grantaire was practically skipping when they left the hospital, springing ahead of Enjolras and gesticulating so passionately he must have looked ridiculous to anyone they passed.
“That was incredible!” he cried, spinning to face him; the smile on his face was infectious, and Enjolras couldn't help but return it, “I cannot believe how advanced technology now is – we could see him, Enjolras! He has little arms and legs!”
“He does,” Enjolras nodded, trying not to laugh.
“We got to see him moving,” Grantaire went on, “He's – he's a he! Apparently, I mean, I know that we ought not make assumptions,” he said, gesturing to Enjolras meaningfully, “You were not as you originally appeared, after all.”
“I wasn't,” Enjolras said, amused, “But we'll go with 'he' for now at least.”
“I cannot believe it, Enjolras, truly,” Grantaire said, eyes shining with joy, “I do not ever recall being so happy in all my life!”
Enjolras stared at him, heart aching, “Really?” he said, “Never?”
“Never,” Grantaire said breathlessly. He smiled again, moving towards him so swiftly that Enjolras found himself taking a small step back.
“This is far more than I am deserving of,” Grantaire said, “You, the baby – I cannot believe I am so fortunate.”
You're not, a part of Enjolras thought sadly, despite Jehan's advice; My Grantaire is. This is his happiness, not yours. You've stolen it, through no fault of your own...
He forced a smile to his face, shrugging, “Life is full of surprises,” he said, and boy, was that an understatement. Life was full of surprises indeed – surprises like unplanned pregnancies and your boyfriend waking up as a 19th century libertine.
“It is,” Grantaire agreed, glancing down at Enjolras' stomach. He extended one hand cautiously, shooting him a pointed look.
“May you...? Oh,” Enjolras blinked, “Oh, uh...sure, I guess...”
He expected Grantaire to lay one hand on his stomach – that's what it looked like he'd gone to do, anyway. Instead he dropped to his knees right there in the street, a reverent look upon his face, as though he were kneeling at a church altar to take prayer.
“I cannot wait to meet you,” he said, and it immediately became apparent to Enjolras that he was talking to the baby.
“Though these are not the circumstances under which I would have chosen to know you, I swear to you that I shall do the best I can by you,” he said, finally placing one hand against Enjolras' stomach, “I swear it. I will love you with every fibre of my being.”
That same feeling stirred in Enjolras' gut again – guilt, guilt, so much guilt.
He cleared his throat, awkwardly patting Grantaire on the head, “Maybe you should get up now,” he said, “We should be heading home...”
“Of course, yes,” Grantaire said, tripping over the words and he got back to his feet, face red, “Forgive me – I had to have a moment with my son, you understand?” he joked, “We are only just getting acquainted, after all!”
“Yeah,” Enjolras said, pity eating him whole, “I understand.”
They caught the metro and made their way back to the apartment mostly in silence, Grantaire occasionally chipping in to bring up something about the hospital appointment.
The whole time Enjolras felt torn in two, a dreadful question burning in the back of his mind; was this child really Grantaire's, if this Grantaire had been plucked straight from the 19th century?
Biologically there was no doubt, but in all the ways that mattered?
It felt wrong, no matter what Jehan told him.
“Do you see? That is my son!”
“It looks like a blurry peanut to me,” Joly said, squinting at the picture, “Is that his head?”
Grantaire snorted, snatching the scan indignantly and turning it the right way up in Joly's hands, “That is his head. Those are his arms, you see?” he said, pointing them out, “Is it not truly astonishing that we are able to see such things? The 21st century is filled with so many wonders.”
“It sure is,” Bossuet said, grinning from ear-to-ear and raising his drink in a toast, “Congratulations, R...”
“Yeah, congrats. Any ideas on names yet?” Joly asked, passing the scan back to him.
“Ah, not so,” Grantaire said, tucking it into the inside pocket of his jacket, over his heart.
“I have given a number of grand suggestions but Enjolras has dismissed them all out of hand!” he told them, pouring himself a glass of wine.
“They're a bit dated,” Enjolras murmured as he passed by their table, busy setting up for the meeting as members of the group began to trickle in, “That's all,”
“Dated, bah!” Grantaire waved the thought away, “They are timeless!”
Enjolras muttered something under his breath and then carried on with his task, apparently choosing not to share the comment out loud. Grantaire felt himself deflate almost at once, a horrible feeling settling in his stomach at the way Enjolras avoided his gaze. Was something troubling him? He had thought the day had been quite wonderful – they had seen their child, after all, and what greater thing could there possibly be?
“Would you like some help, my love?” he asked, watching Enjolras moving chairs and pulling tables together.
“Don't call me that,” Enjolras said, so quickly that it seemed as though it was an instinctive response. He froze, face flushing, “Sorry,” he added, almost grudgingly, “But don't. Please.”
Grantaire recoiled, “Very well,” he said, trying not to look half as wounded as he felt, “But my offer stands. Would you like some assistance? You ought not be doing that in your fragile condition...”
“I'm not fragile,” Enjolras snapped; Grantaire could feel him bristling from across the room. He glanced helplessly at Joly and Bossuet for back up, finding them both apparently very interested in their shoes. Or unwilling to involve themselves, more likely. He could not blame them.
“I did not mean insult,” he started slowly, “Merely that it is hard work dragging tables around at the best of times, let alone when one is with child.”
Enjolras huffed indignantly, throwing his hands up in a dramatic display of defeat, “Fine,” he said, sitting down, “You do it then.”
Grantaire nodded, glancing around, “Where do you want them...?”
The meeting was uneventful – at least aside from Enjolras' unusually frosty demeanour, any way. The Enjolras that Grantaire recalled from 1832 had never been abundantly warm towards him, no, but this was an altogether different kind of coldness, so frigid that even the rest of the group seemed chilled by it. He stood at Combeferre's side for the entirety of the evening, occasionally pitching in with an opinion or comment but otherwise remaining stonily silent, arms folded across his chest. Grantaire did not pay much attention to the topic of the meeting – he couldn't, not with Enjolras' glacial gaze piercing his soul like that from across the room.
Grantaire was starting to suspect that he knew what he had done wrong – it was not an intentional crime, but evidently an unforgivable one all the same: he wasn't the Grantaire that Enjolras fell in love with. He was still a stranger, remembering nothing of their lives together in the 21st century, and yet here he was, boasting about the baby as though he had any right to call it his own. His stomach writhed, feeling as though someone was trying to tie his guts into complicated knots. How was it possible for this child to be both his and not his? What would become of them if his memories did not return to him before it was born? They could not be a family, he realised with a sinking feeling; it would be a lie, a farce - a performance, at least on Enjolras' part.
It was an unbearable thought.
He reached across the table for the open bottle of wine, filling his glass to the brim.
Unbearable, yes, but surely not impervious to drowning.
Grantaire was well on his way to inebriated by the time the meeting wrapped up. He knew this because when he stood from the table to pull on his coat the room tipped to one side - he very nearly went with it, catching himself just in time.
“Uh, you okay there, R...?” Joly said, “You look a bit, uh...”
“Wasted,” Bossuet pitched in, far more honestly than Grantaire would have liked, “We told you to slow down. Are you going to be alright getting home?”
“I'll be fine,” Grantaire muttered, shaking Bossuet's arm away as he tried to steady him, “I have a boringly sober chaperone, if you recall,”
“Enjolras is going to be pissed,” Joly said quietly, seemingly more to Bossuet than to Grantaire.
Almost as though these terrible words summoned him Enjolras came striding across the room towards them, demeanour still so icy that Grantaire thought he could have frozen anything within a three metre radius of him - plant life would die, animals would go into early hibernation and people's fingers would turn blue and fall off. It all seemed quite plausible.
“Enjolras,” he said, casting his gaze down to his feet in shame, “Are you ready to return home...?”
“Yes,” Enjolras muttered, “I called us a taxi.”
A pause followed his words, drawing out so long that Grantaire thought Enjolras might have left, but when he looked up and his vision focused he saw that Enjolras was staring at him with a look of intense hurt on his face.
“You're drunk.” he said.
Grantaire felt shame burn up the back of his neck, “Yes,” he said; there was no use lying to him, what good would it do?
Enjolras' jaw twitched, “Combeferre told you not to get drunk,” he said tartly, “He said it could mess with your memories even more.”
“It's quite easy for Combeferre to say such a thing when he is not me,” Grantaire mumbled, draining the rest of his wine from his glass as though to make a point. Enjolras narrowed his eyes.
“Come, then,” Grantaire said, ignoring him, “Let us go home. It would be wise to continue our fight somewhere more private, don't you think? It is hardly becoming to do so in public.”
They did not say a single word to each other on the ride home. The silence was so heavy that even the poor taxi driver must have certainly felt crushed underneath it, for he attempted to make small talk to which Enjolras gave only the most cursory of responses. By the time they pulled up outside their apartment building it was near unbearable, Grantaire alighting the taxi the moment it stopped so as to escape the tension. It felt like being trapped with a stick of dynamite.
He did not fool himself, even drunk – as soon as they got into the apartment he went about fixing a bed for himself on the sofa, certain that Enjolras would not want him near him. He made several trips to and from the closet with pillows and a duvet before he found Enjolras sitting on the sofa, hands folded in his lap.
“Can we talk?” he asked. His voice was surprisingly small, soft, even, and not at all angry the way Grantaire had predicated. It caught him so off guard that for a moment he hesitated, part of him suspecting a trap.
“Of course,” he said when he finally regained the power of speech. Enjolras patted the space beside him in invitation, and Grantaire sat down obediently, uncertain where this was going.
“I...I'm angry at you,” Enjolras began, looking as though he were trying very hard indeed to contain that anger, “I'm upset. Combeferre warned you that drinking could make things worse.”
Grantaire's stomach twisted with guilt, “Yes,” he said, “He did.”
“But you did it anyway...”
“I did.” Grantaire whispered, “I am sorry, I...I was merely---”
“Hurt.” Enjolras said, cutting across him, “I know.” he winced, “I'm sorry – I know it's my fault. I've been cold to you all day...”
Grantaire did not respond, not sure what he was expected to say. He was correct, after all.
“A little,” he said eventually, looking down at his own hands; they were shaking.
“In truth I do not know how to make you happy, Enjolras – aside from regaining my memories, at any rate...”
Enjolras took a deep breath, “I'm sorry – it's not your fault. I know that. I do, I promise, I just...”
“You miss him,” Grantaire guessed, “Ah, well, me - that me, anyway.”
“I do,” Enjolras said; he turned away slightly on the sofa, trembling so visibly that Grantaire's heart ached with the need to reach out and comfort him, “I miss him a lot, especially now, after today---”
Enjolras nodded, wiping furiously at his eyes, “This should have been a memory we shared.”
“But not...not the way it was meant to be,” Enjolras said, “Not my Grantaire.”
Grantaire felt a horrible lump form in his throat, unable to be certain if it were his heart trying to escape his body or vomit. He pushed it back down either way.
“I'm sorry,” he said, “That I'm not him.”
“It's not your fault,” Enjolras said instantly, turning to look at him; the sight of Enjolras with tears glistening in his eyes was almost unbearable. The Enjolras he remembered would readily shed tears for humanity or liberty, but these tears – these tears were different. They were personal, private, and so jarring to behold that Grantaire rather hoped he would forget the whole ordeal come morning.
“I'm still sorry,” He said quietly, “I ought not have been so excitable about the baby. I am sure I still feel a stranger to you, after all...”
“Just a little,” Enjolras confessed, “It's just hard to get my head around the fact I might end up raising this baby with someone who...who doesn't remember anything about our lives together...”
Grantaire nodded, “I understand,” he said, “I do, Enjolras, truly.”
Enjolras sniffled, “It was no excuse to be so cold towards you, though – that was cruel.”
“A little,” Grantaire agreed, “But I ought not have dealt with it by drinking my sorrows away. That was irresponsible, given everything.”
“A little,” Enjolras parroted back. A strange look came over him then, gentle in it's nature.
“This kind of reminds me of our first big fight after we got together,” he said.
“Is that so?”
“Yes,” Enjolras confirmed, an almost dreamy expression taking hold of him, “You were in the middle of a depressive episode and didn't tell me; we did our usual back and forth in the Musain, but it upset you more than usual, and I didn't realise. You came to my apartment drunk and we had a huge screaming fight about it. Combeferre said he thought we were going to kill each other,” he said, “But eventually we both just broke down crying and apologised and then actually sat down and listened to each other for...well, probably the first time ever,” he smiled at the memory, bittersweet, and Grantaire wished more than anything that he could share in it too.
“After that we didn't have big fights anymore,” Enjolras said, shrugging, “We talked things out instead. Like this.”
Grantaire let out a small hum, “I wish we could have employed such logic in my own time,” he said, “But I fear there was no place for love stories on the barricades. If it is any consolation to you, Enjolras, I wish to regain my memories surely just as much as you wish me to.”
“Of course. Why would I not want to remember all you've spoken of?” Grantaire said earnestly, “And after all, you are pregnant yet I posses no memory at all of how it happened!” he joked, “I feel utterly robbed!”
Enjolras laughed slightly, cheeks turning red, “Hopefully those details will come back to you too,” he said, “How are you feeling now, anyway...?”
“Better,” Grantaire reported, “This conversation has sobered me considerably, I must say.”
“Good,” Enjolras said, “Please don't do that again...”
“I won't,” Grantaire vowed, “But you must also come to me honestly about your feelings, I beg. I would never willingly hurt you so.”
Enjolras smiled, “I know,” he said, “Let's go to bed.”
They had only just settled down to sleep when Enjolras spoke again, his voice tired and heavy.
“Tell me about your memories,” he said.
“Your 19th century ones,” he clarified, “About me and our friends and everything that happened...”
“Ah,” Grantaire said, pausing for a moment as he considered the request. He wasn't sure it were wise to discuss such things – he hardly imagined Enjolras would like what he had to tell him. His whole heart was dedicated to his cause – a fact that apparently remained the same across the ages – how would he feel to learn in detail how abysmally his efforts had failed in some other lifetime?
Enjolras was apparently displeased by this long silence.
“Well?” he pressed.
“Are you truly sure you wish to know?” Grantaire said.
“Why wouldn't I?”
“Some of it is awful,”
“I can handle it,” Enjolras said indignantly.
Can you truly, though? Grantaire wondered.
He swallowed hard, carefully debating how to proceed.
“Well, there are a lot of similarities between the group then and the group now,” he started, thinking that was as good a place as any to begin, “Some of the things for which you are fighting have changed, yes, but mostly the group seems founded on many of the same beliefs as the Les Amis that I recall from my own time.”
“It's terrible,” Enjolras commented darkly.
“That so little has changed.”
“It just goes to show how much our work is needed.” Enjolras said, voice ringing with surety.
Grantaire could not help but smile to hear him speak; “I thought you might look at it that way,” he remarked.
“Are we all like you remember?” Enjolras asked, “I know you remember drinking with Joly and Bossuet back then too...”
“Well there was painfully little else to do in the nineteenth century,” Grantaire said playfully, “But yes, I do. And boxing with Bahorel, too. Oh, yes, and Courfeyrac and I took poor Pontmercy to a dance once upon a time, and he went along, the dear, in the hopes he might run into his mystery coquette!” he grinned, “I am pleased to see he found her in this lifetime too!”
Enjolras let out a little snort of amusement, “That seems about right...” he said, “And me – you say all the time that you remember me,” he fidgeted uncomfortably, rolling over to look at him, “What was he – uh, I – like?”
“Ah, well...” Grantaire bit his lip thoughtfully, “Stoic and calm, mostly. You were very poised, and did not care much for drinking or gambling or other reckless forms of revelry. It sometimes seemed as though you might have been the physical manifestation of your ideals - as though if those beliefs died you might simply fade away with them. It was intimidating on occasion, I confess, but always awe-inspiring, especially to the most lowly. You made a believer out of even me, though perhaps not in the manner you would have liked.”
Enjolras was quiet for a while.
“19th century me sounds like a bit of a drag,” he said at last, and Grantaire laughed, unable to help himself.
“Well from what you've said I was scarily serious. I mean, I know I can still be that way now sometimes, but---”
“It was a different time, Enjolras,” Grantaire reminded him, “Things are still awful, do not misunderstand – but things are done a little differently now. You had no choice but to be as severe as you were, and I know that – I knew that then, even, and yet I still hassled you relentlessly for it.”
Grantaire felt his cheeks grow hot, “For your attention, I suppose? It was all I could do to get you to see me, to acknowledge me, to know that I was there...”
“So I was an asshole,” Enjolras said.
“Ah, but I certainly brought it upon myself,” Grantaire argued.
“I don't believe that—--”
“Do you know me at all?”
“Well, okay, but---”
“We were perhaps both in the wrong,” Grantaire said, “Just like tonight, if that answer please you, but far less adept at conversing about it. I was a wretch and sometimes you were harsh, but that is all there is to it. It did not matter, in the end. I loved you anyway, until the very last moment, and now still, even after.”
“About that,” Enjolras said, voice low, “You said that we all died,” he ventured, swallowing nervously, so loudly that Grantaire could hear it.
“How?” he asked, “What happened? I mean – I know, you said our rebellion failed, but---you. Me. How did we die?”
Grantaire froze. He wondered, fleetingly, how welcome honesty would be at this time. He thought of Enjolras now, seemingly so conflicted, so missing the incarnation of Grantaire that he knew, that he loved...
“It was nothing of note,” he said, forcing the words past his lips, “We were the last two alive, and were shot by the firing squad. That is all.”
“Oh,” Enjolras breathed, “That's...”
“Yes,” Grantaire said, “Rather unpleasant.”
“Horrible,” Enjolras whispered, “It's horrible. They just shot us? With no trial, no thought...?”
“That's right,” Grantaire said, closing his eyes, “Nothing.”
“We were together, though? At the end?”
“I do not remember,”
“Perhaps we should go to sleep,” Grantaire said, hoping to change the subject; it left a sharp lump in his stomach to speak of that day, “You ought to rest more in your condition...”
Enjolras did not respond, going completely silent at his side.
“If you say so,” he said at last, rolling over, “Goodnight, Grantaire...”
“Goodnight Enjolras,” Grantaire said, heart aching, "Sleep well."
When Enjolras blinked awake the next morning he was surprised by three things.
The first, that Grantaire had apparently decided to bring him breakfast in bed.
The second, that that breakfast (fresh croissants, still warm,) had clearly been acquired from the pâtisserie across the street, meaning Grantaire had actually been brave enough to leave their apartment by himself.
And third, that Grantaire was dressed and ready to face the day when he should have instead probably been wrestling with a nightmarish hangover.
“What's going on...?” He asked, still half asleep.
“I brought you breakfast,” Grantaire said, as if that was enough of an explanation.
“I can see that,” Enjolras said, looking down at the plate Grantaire had just set on his lap, “You went out...?”
“I did,” Grantaire confirmed, smiling nervously, “Is it alright?” he added, gesturing to the plate, “I wasn't entirely certain what to get you, so I thought something classic might be the best bet..."
“It's perfect,” Enjolras said gratefully, studying him for a moment, “Thank you.”
“You're welcome. I thought I owed you an apology for last night...” Grantaire said, “It was brutish of me. I do not much like the idea of drinking like that when we have a child on the way...” he seemed to curl in on himself a little as he said this, averting his gaze, “I ought try to stay my hand. I cannot abide the thought of being like my father...”
Enjolras frowned, “Your father was shitty in your lifetime too, then?”
“Very much so,” Grantaire said, “What is he like in this age?”
“An asshole,” Enjolras said honestly, unable to feel guilty about it. He'd had the displeasure of meeting Grantaire's father only once, but once had been more than enough; he'd been an arrogant pig, ignoring Enjolras entirely and treating Grantaire like he was worth less than the dirt under his shoes.
First introductions had not gone well – hell, it had taken a lot of effort for Enjolras not to introduce his fist to his face.
“That seems fitting,” Grantaire sighed, sitting down on the edge of the bed, “Well, enough of this; eat, please, and then you should get up. I should like to take you on a date today - if you are amenable to the idea, any way.”
Enjolras paused mid-bite, caught off guard, “A date?” he echoed.
“Yes,” Grantaire said, “It was not called dating in my time, of course. Rather, courting, but Courfeyrac is helping me catch up on the appropriate language. You took me to the Louvre and I made rather a mess of it all – I should like to repay you in kind, if you will allow me. I thought we could take a stroll around Jardin des Tuileries?”
Enjolras hesitated, bouncing the idea around in his head. His initial response was to say yes, of course – ambling around Jardin des Tuileries with Grantaire sounded like a wonderful way to spend a nice day - but part of him was torn, still clinging stubbornly to the idea that enjoying this Grantaire's company was in some way being unfaithful to his Grantaire. It was ridiculous, really – he knew Jehan was right. This Grantaire was his Grantaire, just a bit...well, muddled up. He had the same twinkle in his eyes, the same infectious, lop-sided grin, the same barbed tongue, big heart and sharp wit...
Besides, it was only a walk in the park – it wasn't like he was eloping with him.
“Okay,” he said, “That sounds nice...”
Grantaire's whole face lit up, beaming, "Excellent!" he said, "I'll step outside and give you a chance to get yourself ready..."
"Thanks for breakfast," Enjolras said, cautiously reaching forward to lay his hand on his; the second his skin came into contact with Grantaire's his whole arm was buzzing, everything up to his shoulder feeling fuzzy all over. Grantaire was clearly aware of it too, recoiling as if he'd received a static shock from their touch.
Their eyes met for a moment, both of them confused, and then Enjolras drew his hand back, fingers tingling. They said nothing - he didn't know why. It was as if speaking about whatever it was might bring some curse down on both their heads.
"I'll, uh, go make coffee," Grantaire said after a while, clearly desperate to break the silence, "I'm sure that I can figure out how.”
“I won't be long,” Enjolras promised, watching him go, “I take my coffee---”
“With cream and two sugars. I know.”
Enjolras blinked, “You do?”
“I don't know,” Grantaire answered, already halfway out the door, “But I do.”
The wind was brusque but the sun was blinding as they made their way around Jardin des Tuileries, taking in the fresh air and the smell of the flowers that were starting to bloom in the plantbeds. Spring in Paris was always beautiful, Enjolras thought.
But then so was summer, and autumn, and winter, and...well, Enjolras was just in love with Paris, regardless of the season. Still, it was a particularly nice day even for spring.
“It's lovely today,” Grantaire commented, as if reading his mind.
“It is,” Enjolras agreed, inhaling the smell of fresh bread as they passed a small cafe stand, crowded with tourists, “I love spring. I'm not looking forward to being heavily pregnant in the summer, though...”
“Ah, yes,” Grantaire furrowed his brow, “That does sound rather unpleasant.”
“Probably. I guess we'll find out.” Enjolras said, pulling his coat tighter around himself to hide his bump.
“Are you cold?” Grantaire asked, noticing this and instantly starting to unwind his scarf from around his neck, “Here---”
“No, it's fine,” Enjolras protested, helpless to resist as Grantaire draped it tenderly around him, “Grantaire---”
“It's no trouble, honestly! I am quite warm enough.”
“That's not it,” Enjolras said, “I'm fine, really. I just...don't really want anyone seeing,”
Enjolras made a pointed gesture to his stomach, and as he did realisation seemed to switch on behind Grantaire's eyes.
“Oh,” he said, “Oh, right. I – I imagine it is somewhat uncomfortable for you, given...everything.”
“A little,” Enjolras confessed, “I've had enough 'are you a boy or a girl?' questions to last a lifetime. I'd rather avoid them now, if possible..."
“Of course. Do not worry - if anyone so much as looks at you in the wrong way they shall have me to answer to,” Grantaire said fiercely – and hell, Enjolras believed it. He felt somewhat guilty for having ever thought Grantaire might react badly to the news about his gender – only somewhat guilty, mind. He had every right to be wary, after all. But this was Grantaire - no matter the situation, no matter the century.
If Enjolras had known then that Grantaire was so similar in every lifetime he would haven't worried for a second.
“Thank you,” he said quietly.
“For being so understanding.”
Grantaire let out a snort of laughter, “I should be the one thanking you for that. You could have had me committed somewhere when I began to talk of nineteenth century Paris and failed revolutions. Instead you listened and tried to make sense of it!”
“I love you,” Enjolras said without thinking, shrugging it off, “Of course I was going to listen.”
Grantaire smiled at his side, digging his hands into his pockets, “Forgive me,” he said, “I'd say it back, but...I do not know what is and isn't welcome from me at the moment...”
“Neither do I, really,” Enjolras admitted, glancing at him, “Sometimes I forget you're not...”
“Well, sort of. You are in some ways,” Enjolras murmured, looking down as they walked, “A lot of ways. It's complicated.”
“What about this situation isn't?” Grantaire joked weakly. Enjolras managed a smirk at that.
“True,” he said, slowing as they passed a bench, “Can we sit down? My feet are starting to hurt.”
“Thanks,” Enjolras sighed, collapsing onto it with a huff; as Grantaire sat down next to him Enjolras noticed how careful he was to keep some distance between them, and for some reason this observation made Enjolras' chest ache with sadness. Once upon a time they'd have sat practically in each other's laps.
Enjolras and Grantaire had never really left the 'honeymoon phase'.
Things had settled down in some ways of course, the way longterm relationships always did, but that spark of passion and giddy butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling had never gone away - it had just got worse and worse until most of Les Amis had started joking that they gave Marius and Cosette competition for 'most sickeningly in love couple in the group'.
And now here they were, sat three feet apart on a bench, barely able to maintain eye-contact for longer than a few seconds. It was torture.
“Do you need us to get a taxi back?” Grantaire asked, breaking into Enjolras' nostalgic daydreaming.
“You look as though you're in pain.”
“Oh,” Enjolras shook his head, “No, I'm just thinking about stuff, that's all.”
“About him?” Grantaire guessed quietly.
“You,” Enjolras corrected, fidgeting slightly, “Jehan told me I need to stop separating the two of you, in my mind. After all you're the same man, just with different life experiences...”
“I suppose that is one way of looking at it,” Grantaire mused, “Enjolras, I...I know it is bold of me, but...I wish for you to know that my feelings for you remain as strong as ever, but...should you wish to...to end this relationship, if that is what it is, and instead simply remain friends, I...I would not resent you for it. You should not be tied to me, nor should you have to force yourself to try and make peace with this.” his voice shook as he spoke, but there was a look of burning, agonizing sincerity on his face, so real and intense that Enjolras thought his heart might stop at the sight of it. He felt the breath leave his lungs involuntarily.
“No,” he said immediately, “No, I – I don't want that. I mean it.”
“Yes. I want to--I want----”
I want to stay with you.
He swallowed hard, clearing his throat, “Well, I want us to work something out.”
Grantaire's expression was one of utter disbelief – it was almost painful to see how shocked he was by Enjolras' statement.
Enjolras nodded, “Really.”
Grantaire blinked a few times, as though recovering from being hit across the back of the head with something heavy, and then he smiled, shuffling along the bench so that they were closer. Almost instinctively Enjolras moved as well, until their legs were pressed against each other, their faces only inches apart.
For a split second Enjolras was completely certain they were about to kiss. His eyes came to rest on Grantaire's lips, trembling and parted in anticipation. They were so close he could feel Grantaire's breath against his cheek.
It would be easy – so, so easy, to just lean forward and...
And then the baby kicked, making him jolt with surprise, and the moment was gone as quick as it had arrived. He drew back, exhaling sharply.
"Are you alright?" Grantaire asked, concerned.
"Yes, I - yes, of course, I'm sorry. The baby," Enjolras explained, heart still racing, "He's kicking, that's all."
“Maybe we should go home,” Enjolras suggested, sure that he was probably blushing to the very tips of his ears.
Grantaire looked dazed – and puzzled, as though he couldn't quite make sense of something. Enjolras could almost see the thoughts buffering in his head.
He frowned, leaning back slowly, “I---yes, of course...”
“Is something wrong?” Enjolras asked, suddenly fearing that he'd upset him somehow.
“No, of course not, I just...” Grantaire shook his head, rising to his feet, “It is nothing, I promise. Come on, let's go.”
Enjolras nodded, still clinging to his coat, “Alright,” he said, confused, “If you say so...”
Grantaire's mind had been racing all evening.
It had been racing since Jardin des Tuileries, and it had been racing on the way back to the apartment. It had been racing during dinner (they'd ordered pizza to be delivered to their apartment, another new wonder Grantaire was most delighted by) and it had been racing as he'd stood dumbly in the shower before bed.
It had been racing, racing, racing, so furiously that after two hours of tossing and turning in bed he'd conceded defeat, sneaking out from under the covers and leaving Enjolras to dream.
He wasn't getting to sleep – at least not without dealing with this, first. Their walk that afternoon had brought about all kinds of strange thoughts and feelings. There were pictures swimming through his head, jumbled and confused, half of them making sense and half of them not. Something had happened that afternoon in Jardin des Tuileries – something, though Grantaire knew not what.
Whatever it was, he needed to find out; it was this chain of thoughts that had led him to where he was now, standing outside Jehan Prouvaire's apartment building in the middle of the night, pressing the button on intercom repeatedly.
Enjolras had tried to explain to him how those things worked, but Jehan wasn't appearing at the door, so evidently he was doing something wrong. He pressed it again, and then again, and suddenly a voice chimed up from inside the little silver box on the wall.
“Will you fucking chill with the button?! I'm awake!” it said angrily, the familiar cadence of Jean Prouvaire.
“Who the hell is it?!”
Grantaire startled, “Ah – uh, Prouvaire,” he said, “It's me. Grantaire.”
“Grantaire? What are you doing here at this hour?”
“I have to speak to you.”
“I'll explain when I'm inside. Please?”
There was a pause, and then a heavy, reluctant sigh, “Okay, fine - I'll buzz you in. Come on up. My apartment is number five.”
Jehan was already standing in the open doorway when Grantaire reached his floor, hair sticking up in a dozen different directions and wearing nothing but a bright pink silk robe.
Briefly Grantaire wondered if he had perhaps interrupted something, or if that was just the way Jehan always slept. Both were equally as likely as the other.
“Hello,” he said awkwardly, as though they had just run into each other on the street and he hadn't just been repeatedly pressing the intercom like a man possessed.
“Did I wake you?”
“It's bitch o'clock in the morning,” Jehan said tartly, “Yes, you woke me.”
“Forgive me, I thought you were prone to staying up into the small hours---”
“I am,” Jehan grumbled, stepping aside to let him into the apartment, “But I have to rest sometime. Contrary to popular rumour I do actually sleep – and not upside-down like a bat, like Bahorel theorizes.”
“Ah,” Grantaire said, suddenly feeling very guilty about his decision to come to him, “Forgive me. I just...did not know where else to turn on the matter.”
“It couldn't wait until a civilized hour?”
“No,” Grantaire said certainly, “It could not.”
“Fine,” Jehan yawned, gesturing to the sofa, “Sit your ass down. I'll go make us coffee.”
Grantaire nodded, sitting and glancing around. Jehan's tiny apartment was as bizarre as expected, crammed with plant-life, dead things and all manner of strange knick knacks and trinkets.
“Your home is nice,” he said conversationally, watching Jehan rummage around in the kitchenette for clean mugs.
“You don't have to humour me you know,” Jehan remarked, “I know it's like something from a really creepy episode of 'Hoarders'.”
“Fuck, forget it. Sorry. I keep forgetting...” Jehan mumbled, making a vague motion with one hand, “The memory thing. It throws me off, since I kept all my memories when my old ones came back.”
Grantaire said nothing.
“Anyway, here you go – you still take your coffee black, right?” Jehan asked, “One sugar?”
“Well at least that's the same. Small mercies, I guess - some normalcy in the chaos.”
Grantaire managed a small smile, watching as Jehan came drifting over with a mug in either hand.
“So,” he said, thrusting one of them into Grantaire's hands and joining him on the sofa with a loud yawn.
“What brought you here so late?”
Grantaire sighed shakily, “Jehan, I....I remembered something.”
Something sparked in Jehan's eyes at that, and he suddenly seemed far less asleep than he had been moments before, “You did?” he said.
“What? How? When did it happen?”
“Enjolras and I took a walk today,” Grantaire began, “Around Jardin des Tuileries. The weather was nice. It was...pleasant, and normal,” he shrugged, staring down into his mug.
“And then...we got talking, you see,” he explained, “And there was a moment, Jehan – just a moment – when I was certain we were going to kiss.”
“No,” Grantraire said quickly, “No, we didn't. But...we nearly did, and...and I think...” he shook his head, still unsure, still lost.
“I remember kissing him, Jehan,” Grantaire breathed, “The first time, I think. I...it's hazy, it's only in fragments, but...”
“Tell me about it.” Jehan urged, shuffling closer to him on the sofa, “Tell me, R...”
“We were standing on a bridge,” Grantaire said, closing his eyes as the images came to him, “I...Ponts Des Arts, I think. It was very late – or very early. I'm not sure. Not quite yet dawn, I think. God knows what we were doing out at that hour. It was beautiful, though - the streetlamps on the surface of the Seine, the moonlight in Enjolras' hair. I remember that, most of all..."
“We were making fun of something – some locks...?”
“Love locks,” Jehan said with a knowing air about him, taking a careful sip of his coffee, “The thing tourists are always doing. They shouldn't. It's damaging the bridge.”
“That must be it, then. Thats sounds very much like something Enjolras would despise..."
“He does, trust me. I've heard his rant."
“Hm. Well, Enjolras and I were joking about them – something about them being ridiculous...and then...” Grantaire felt the breath shudder out of him, “Then he kissed me. Quickly - so quickly I don't think I even registered it had happened. And then he was apologizing, truly horrified with himself, saying he ought have asked my permission...” he smiled slightly, feeling his heart growing light as a feather in his chest.
“I believe I told him he had my consent to kiss me again if he wished. And so he did. And I kissed him back too.” he opened his eyes, glancing at Jehan, “That's it. That's all that I recall.”
“That's still something,” Jehan said, laying one hand gently on his arm, “That's progress. Did you tell Enjolras this?”
“No,” Grantaire said, “I...I wasn't even sure it was real, to be quite honest. The idea that Enjolras would have any interest in me is still...hard to grasp. I thought maybe I was making it up, desperate to remember the way he wants me to. I didn't want to get his hopes up for nothing, I thought I should get your advice first...”
“Why did you wait so long to come here?”
“I hoped more might come back to me, but...” he sighed, shoulders feeling weighed down with disappointment, “But nothing. Just that - just fragments of a kiss that only feels half-real.”
“Are you going to tell him?”
“I don't know,” Grantaire admitted, burning with shame, “I know most certainly that I should, but...what if it just hurts him more? He wants his version of me back so badly, Jehan – I know he's trying to work things out with me, but surely to know I remember only the most fleeting of things would only plunge the knife deeper? It makes me a ghost of what he wants.”
Jehan made a thoughtful sound, leaning back on the sofa, “Normally I'd yell at you guys to just communicate,” he said, “But I think you might be right about that. Enjolras is going through a lot right now – it might be best if we try to figure this out a bit more before you go telling him what you remember. We need to work out why you remembered it – and if whatever it was can help you remember anything else.”
Grantaire nodded, “Very well,” he said, “Where do we start?”
“Well, what do you think happened?” Prouvaire pressed, “You must have some theories, right? Was it the 'almost kiss' that triggered it?”
“Maybe,” Grantaire said, running one hand nervously through his hair, “I mean, that seems plausible, at least.”
“Well maybe that's the clue to all of this,” Jehan suggested, “Maybe you need your memory refreshing for it to work right. Ask Enjolras to go to Ponts Des Arts with you,” he said, “Just to see if it brings anything else back.”
It seemed a reasonable enough possibility, in Grantaire's opinion – frankly he felt ridiculous that it had not crossed his mind before. Surely going back to the place they'd shared their first kiss would do something? He could not imagine that in a timeline where he and Enjolras were lovers his brain would not be trying desperately to remember it all. It just didn't make sense.
“Alright,” he said, gripping his mug tightly, “I'll ask him when I get home.”
“Maybe wait until morning,” Jehan advised, smirking slightly, “Enjolras isn't a morning person for all he pretends to be. You'd be skinned alive if you went home now and woke him up to ask him.”
Grantaire smiled fondly at that, “Yeah,” he said, sipping his coffee, “Maybe you're right about that...”
“You can crash here if you like?” Jehan offered, “Rather than go walking the streets of Paris at the ass crack of dawn?”
“That might be good,” Grantaire said, “Thank you.”
“Any time. Us nineteenth century weirdos have to stick together, you know? I'll go grab a blanket,” Jehan said, getting to his feet, “Don't mind Voltaire, by the way,”
“Yeah,” Jehan said, pointing across the room; Grantaire followed his finger until his eyes came to rest on the large, very ugly taxidermy fox sitting on top of the bookshelf. It looked as though it had been done many years ago by someone who had only vague, abstract knowledge of what a fox was supposed to look like.
“Oh,” he said, a little lost for words, “Um...that's---”
“An ugly fox. Yeah, I know,” Jehan said, waving it away as though it were nothing, “If his staring freaks you out I can put something over him?”
“That...that might be good.”
Sorry folks. They're going to fight.
There was smoke in the air – thick and acrid, burning in the back of Enjolras' throat. He coughed, shielding his eyes against the dust billowing up around him.
Where was he?
He lifted his head, looking around and trying to distinguish shapes through the smoke. He could feel something wet on his face, taste copper in his mouth.
He frowned as he recognized Courfeyrac's voice, turning towards it. His heart all but stopped when he saw his friend; he looked almost the same, but not quite, dressed strangely and sporting large, neatly groomed sideburns either side of his face. His eyes were wide with fear, his voice ringing with urgency.
“Enjolras!" he cried, "We need more powder!”
“We...what?” Enjolras stammered, blinking, “I---I don't----”
“We're running low on cartridges, too,” Combeferre reported, appearing from seemingly nowhere, his glasses skewed slightly where they sat on his nose. He was wearing the same strange clothes as Courfeyrac, staring at Enjolras expectantly as though awaiting a reply.
Enjolras didn't know what he was supposed to say. Was he supposed to know what that meant?
“What's happening?” He asked instead, voice small, “Combeferre, I...what's going on?”
If Courfeyrac or Combeferre were about to answer him, they never got the chance; there was a cry of 'GET DOWN!' from up ahead, a voice that sounded a little like Feuilly, and then a sound like the earth opening up; a hiss, a thunderous boom, and then an explosion of shards and shrapnel that sent Enjolras reeling backwards.
He heard a scream, felt something warm spray his face, and----
And sat bolt upright in bed with a sharp intake of breath, his heart hammering furiously in his chest.
He sat there, trembling, the smell of smoke still tingling in his nose, and brought one hand to his stomach. The baby kicked, and a sigh of relief escaped his lips almost involuntarily.
That was all – a horrible, horrible nightmare.
“Grantaire?” he said, turning to face Grantaire's side of the bed and finding the space beside him empty. He scowled, reaching forwards to touch the sheets; they were cold, as though he'd been gone for a while. A terrible thought began to take form in his head, so awful that the horror of his nightmare paled in comparison.
Had he upset him the day before?
There was no denying that the weird not-quite-kiss yesterday had had a strange effect on Grantaire - he'd left Jardin des Tuileries with a frown on his face that hadn't budged all evening, and he'd been unusually quiet for the rest of the day. Too quiet, for a man who quite frankly never shut up.
What if Enjolras had insulted him? Or worse?
For all Grantaire talked about how much he adored him, what if the kiss – or promise of a kiss – had startled him? Made him realise something about his own feelings?
Enjolras had spent so long wondering if he could learn to love this nineteenth century version of Grantaire that he'd never stopped to question if this Grantaire could learn to love the twenty-first century version of him. Foolishly that possibility had never even crossed his mind.
But what if?
What if Grantaire was starting to realise that his feelings for him weren't as strong as they had been for the Enjolras he remembered from his own time?
From what he'd heard that Enjolras was a fearless, dashing leader of a revolution, full of fire and passion. And sure, Enjolras privately liked to imagine himself that way at times, but he couldn't avoid the unwelcome reality that he was much more of a mess than this godlike 1800's incarnation of himself Grantaire kept waxing poetic about.
In this lifetime Enjolras couldn't cook for shit, sang in the shower (badly), stayed up too late every night, and argued about anything and everything. Hardly the saintly paragon of righteous, angelic fury that Grantaire was describing.
That had to be it.
The more Enjolras thought about it, the more sick he felt; Grantaire must have realised somewhere on the way back from Jardin des Tuileries that he did not love this Enjolras the way he'd been saying he did. And, well...why did that hurt so much? After all this wasn't the Grantaire that Enjolras knew and loved, right?
So why was the thought so hard to bear?
Just then he heard the front door click open, and the next thing he knew Grantaire was peering around the door into the room. There was a strange look on his face, something indescribable.
“Enjolras?” he said, seemingly surprised to find him awake, “Is something wrong? You look pale.”
“I'm always pale.”
“Well, paler than usual, then,”
“I...no,” Enjolras said quietly, tucking a curl of his hair behind his head, “I'm fine. I just had a bad dream...”
“Oh,” Grantaire furrowed his brow, “Well, I know all about those,” he muttered, “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” Enjolras said, “I...no, really. It's okay. Where were you...?”
“Oh.” Enjolras felt the strangest twinge of jealousy stir in his gut. Of course he'd gone to Jehan – it made complete sense. Jehan, who shared same memories that Grantaire did. Jehan, who knew him better than anyone at the moment.
Of course he'd gone to him; Jehan could offer him things Enjolras couldn't even hope to give him. Solidarity. Understanding.
“Were you gone all night?” he asked, hearing the hurt in his own voice despite his best efforts to disguise it.
“Forgive me,” Grantaire said, “I simply could not sleep.”
“You could have woken me up,” Enjolras reasoned.
“You looked peaceful,” Grantaire shrugged, “And you need all the rest you can get in your condition...”
Enjolras looked away, wounded, “You still could have...”
“Well I needed to speak to Prouvaire anyway,” Grantaire told him, "About something important."
I bet you did, Enjolras thought miserably. I bet you needed to confide in him about how I'm not all you hoped I'd be.
“Anyway,” Grantaire said, clearing his throat loudly, “I was wondering if you'd come to Ponts Des Arts with me, later?”
“Ponts Des Arts?” Enjolras' heart as good as stopped.
“Yes. You know – the bridge?”
“I know,” Enjolras cut in it, “But why?”
“It's where we shared our first kiss, is it not? You told me as such...”
“It is,” Enjolras bit his lip, “Why do you want to go there?”
“It's...complicated,” Grantaire said, turning away and busying himself with changing his shirt, “We need to talk about some things, and I just think there would be a good place for it.”
Enjolras' heart didn't stop this time – it as good as shattered.
He inhaled sharply, hands moving to his stomach almost instinctively.
“Oh,” he said, “I...no. I don't...I don't want to go there.”
It was stupid, really – he should have just agreed. If Grantaire was going to tell him he didn't love him, couldn't love him, then not going with him to Ponts Des Arts wouldn't stop it from happening.
But Enjolras couldn't stand the thought of going with him to that bridge, back to where they'd first kissed years ago under the silvery cloak of moonlight, only for Grantaire to break his heart. Was that what was happening? Again, this wasn't his Grantaire, so why did it matter? Or maybe it was, somewhere, somehow.
Enjolras didn't even know anymore.
“You...no?” Grantaire echoed, turning to look at him, eyes clouded with confusion, “Ah, well. Alright. May I ask why...?”
“I just don't want to.” Enjolras said bluntly. And then, hearing the words leave his lips before he could stop them, he added sneeringly, “Why don't you ask Jehan to go with you instead, since the two of you are so close now?”
Grantaire froze, “What? What on earth are you talking about?”
“Well lets face it,” Enjolras said, shaking, “I'll never be able to understand you the way you are now."
“Well you could at least try,” Grantaire said bitingly.
“What's the point?” Enjolras retorted; something flashed in Grantaire's eyes then, a look that Enjolras couldn't quite decode.
“What's the point?” He whispered.
“Yeah. Why bother? You know, I...all that stuff about working it out, yesterday,” Enjolras shook his head, unable to look at him, “It's hopeless, isn't it?”
Truthfully Enjolras didn't know why he was saying all this – it wasn't the way he felt, but some desperate, devastated part of him thought that maybe he could beat Grantaire to the cut. That maybe, perhaps, if he got a few blows in before Grantaire could he wouldn't feel as bad.
Hurt him before he hurts you.
“Stop saying these things,” Grantaire said, taking a step towards him, “Stop. You're just...you're being hysterical!”
“I'm what?” Enjolras said; this time he didn't need to fake his anger.
“Well you know,” Grantaire said, gesturing vaguely to his stomach, “Your condition - it's making you act ridiculous.”
Enjolras could have slapped him. Hell, maybe he would have, if he hadn't been at the other end of the bed, well out of slapping-distance.
“How dare you?!” he said instead, “You son of a---”
“It's true!” Grantaire cried, “It's a well known fact that pregnancy makes one behave hysterically---”
“Well known by 19th century doctors who didn't know their heads from their asses!” Enjolras snarled; he grabbed a pillow, hurling at him, “You insensitive bastard! Get out! Go!”
“I don't care! Just get out of here!”
Grantaire held up his hands in surrender, “Fine,” he said, his expression was still stormy, “I'll go. I'm not 'your' Grantaire after all! Merely a stranger, in your eyes, and so what place have I here?”
Enjolras opened his mouth to speak but Grantaire was gone before he had the chance.
“What about your things?” he shouted after him.
“They're not my things.” Grantaire muttered; the door slammed, hard enough to shake the walls, and Enjolras sank back onto the bed, defeated.
The moment the fight was over he regretted it – a thousand feelings came rushing over him, a tidal-wave of emotion that would have knocked him off his feet if he'd been standing. He closed his eyes, feeling a tear roll down his cheek.
Well, that had gone brilliantly.
Hurt him before he hurts you.
Grantaire didn't know how he found his way to Joly, Bossuet and Musichetta's apartment. That wasn't an over exaggeration by any means - truly, he had no clue. He had simply followed his feet as they'd led him to the Metro, somehow innately knowing what stop was his. Perhaps it was muscle memory, he thought, or some dormant part of his twenty-first century psyche guiding him there like a homing pigeon.
Whatever force was responsible the end result was the same – Grantaire standing outside their apartment building in the rain, waiting for them to answer the intercom.
“Hello?” Joly's voice piped up, crackling slightly from the speakers.
“Joly,” Grantaire said numbly, “It's me.”
There was a long pause – so long that Grantaire thought maybe the connection had cut out. And then;
“I – sorry, I just...are you with Enjolras?”
“No,” Grantaire said, forcing the word up his throat, “No, we had a fight.”
“I...how did you find your way here? I don't remember giving you our address...”
“I don't remember getting it,” Grantaire said simply, “But I'm here. Somehow.”
“Fuck,” Joly said, “That's wild. I'll buzz you in, okay?”
“So go over it again,” Bossuet said, eyes wide as he sat opposite him in the cramped living room of the apartment, “You remember stuff now?”
“No," Grantaire said, "Well, yes. But no,”
“How does that work?”
“I don't know,” Grantaire said for the fifth time since sitting down.
“But you said---”
“I know what I said,” Grantaire sighed, throwing his head back against the back of the sofa, “But I am still not sure what to make of it all! It feels as though I remember, and yet at the same time I do not. It is hard to describe - half real, half imagined. Like a distant dream or the aftermath of too much absinthe. Do you understand?"
"Can't say I do," Bossuet said, raising one eyebrow, "Not really a big fan of absinthe..."
“But the memory you had, of kissing Enjolras,” Musichetta ventured, tilting her head, “That's real, right?”
“How would I know?” Grantaire said miserably, “None of you were there to witness it, and so I have no way of knowing whether it is real or something my mind has conjured up to make me feel better!”
“How about asking Enjolras?” Joly said, “That would clear things up, right?”
Grantaire let out a little snort, hunching in on himself.
“Enjolras will hardly wish to speak wish me now, regardless of the reason,” he murmured, looking away, “He said himself that this was hopeless - that trying to work around our unusual circumstances was...” he shook his head, curling his hands into fists, “Well, he said 'what's the point?' and I believe that speaks for itself.”
“He really said that?” Joly said, recoiling in surprise, “Really? That doesn't sound like him...”
“Well he said it, of that I am certain. My head and my heart may be in pieces of late, but my hearing is still quite in tact.”
“Fuck,” Musichetta said, “That's shitty. I know Enjolras can be cold when he's angry, but...damn."
“See?” Grantaire said, “He doesn't want me.”
“Or you just upset him,” Joly reasoned gently, “Can you think of anything?”
“No.” Grantaire said, “Things seemed perfectly fine between us when we got home yesterday. Everything was quite normal - well, as normal as can be, in our strange situation. We turned in for the night and all was well, but when I got back this morning---”
“Back?” Bossuet said, holding up one hand to stop him there, “Back from where?”
“Prouvaire's place. I stayed the night there.”
“I went to him for advice about my memories,” Grantaire explained, “And it was so late by the time we were done speaking that I...well, it simply made sense to sleep there.”
“Did anyone tell Enjolras this?” Musischetta asked, crossing her arms.
“There it is,” Joly sighed, throwing up his hands, “Et voila!”
Grantaire blinked, lost, “I'm sorry, there's what?”
“Your answer,” Musichetta said.
“I don't quite follow...?”
“It looks bad,” Bossuet pointed out, “Did you, like, creep out of the apartment when he was asleep?”
“I did not want to disturb him,” Grantaire said, suddenly thinking that perhaps that had not been the wisest course of action after all, “He was so peaceful, and I know he has been struggling to sleep of late because of the baby...”
“Fuck, R,” Musichetta groaned, head in her hands, “Don't you realise how dodgy that looks? Sneaking out of the apartment and not coming back until morning?”
Grantaire felt his stomach sink.
“I...well...perhaps not...” he said, a terrible thought coming over him, “You...you don't think he thinks Prouvaire and I are more than friends, do you? He must surely know I would never betray him in such a way...”
“No,” Joly said dismissively, “No, Enjolras knows better than that. Something isn't right, though,” he glanced around the room as though searching for ideas, “Did you explain to him why you were at Jehan's?”
“I told him I needed his advice,” Grantaire shrugged, “That is all.”
“So you didn't mention the whole 'memories coming back to you' thing?” Musichetta clarified.
“Fuck. You idiot.”
“You have to tell him,” Bossuet said, “I guarantee if you do he'll stop being mad at you in a heartbeat.”
“You truly think so?” Grantaire asked. He didn't dare to hope.
Bossuet nodded; “I know so.”
“I said some things that made him angry, too,” Grantaire added, hoping that might help solve the mystery of all this.
“I pointed out that his condition may be making him hysterical, and---”
“Oh my god, are you serious?” Musichetta hissed, “Really, R? 'Hysterical'? I know you're half stuck in the nineteenth century, but come on, man!”
“I...is that not right?” Grantaire said, shrinking back in his seat.
“No,” Joly said, aghast, “Not right at all. Fuck. That's some outdated medical science, R...”
“Yeah. No wonder he was pissed!”
Grantaire winced, “Oh. I suppose I owe him an apology then...”
“You both owe each other an apology and an explanation.” Musichetta said flatly, “Pronto. Communicate, for crying out loud!"
At that moment they were interrupted by music blasting suddenly from Joly's back pocket; he blushed, retrieving his phone, “Sorry,” he said, scurrying past Grantaire, “I'll take this in the kitchen...”
Grantaire sighed, staring up at the ceiling.
“Why is this so very complicated?” he lamented, “I thought the matter of my feelings for Enjolras was difficult in the nineteenth century. It seems I was a fortunate wretch back then, for it is far easier for love to be unrequited than requited!”
“Don't talk like that,” Bossuet scolded, laying one hand gently on his arm, “You guys will figure it out.”
“Yeah,” Musichetta said, sitting down on his other side to take his hand, “You two were made for each other.”
The idea seemed absurd.
“Oh yeah,” Bossuet nodded, “We'd all called you guys getting together years before it happened. The tension was unbearable – we were all just begging for an end to it. And then you guys finally hooked up and it just got even more unbearable.”
“It was terrible,” Musichetta seconded, smirking to herself, “You two were like a couple of lovesick teenagers! I think I told you guys to get a room like fifty times.”
Grantaire managed a small smile at that. He wished more than anything that he could remember those times as well. It seemed bitterly unfair that he had been robbed of such happy memories.
“That seems too good to be true,” he admitted, “I wish my memories would return to me so that I might believe you."
“Maybe they're starting to,” Musichetta said brightly, “That kiss sure sounds real to me. And you found your way here, after all! You even used to Metro! There's no way you could've done that if you didn't remember something.”
He looked up to see Joly hurrying back into the room, nearly tripping over his cane in his haste. His eyes were wide, his face pale.
“Joly?” he said, “What's the matter?”
“That was Combeferre on the phone,” Joly announced, his voice trembling.
“Is something wrong?” Bossuet asked, getting to his feet.
Joly didn't take his eyes off Grantaire, staring at him with a look somewhere between pain and pity.
“Enjolras has been taken into hospital,” he said quietly.
“Something about the baby.”
Grantaire felt his heart stop.
Enjolras sighed heavily. He'd been staring at the tiles on the ceiling for half an hour, counting them as he waited for Combeferre to come back from the vending machine.
36, 37, 38...
The constant beeping of the hospital machines was starting to make his head hurt. He was losing count.
38, 39, 40...
He lifted his head off the pillow to see Combeferre awkwardly brandishing a chocolate bar out to him.
"Here," he said, “You should eat.”
“I'm not hungry right now,” Enjolras said, “Someone is moving around too much for me to keep anything down,” he added, pointing to his stomach.
“Well at least try,” Combeferre urged, taking a seat in the chair beside the bed, “You need something in your stomach. How are you feeling?”
“Like someone who has been hooked up to a bunch of machines for an hour,” Enjolras said bluntly.
Combeferre smiled sadly, “They just need to monitor your contractions for a little longer,” he said, “Braxton Hicks are perfectly normal but it's better to be safe than sorry.”
“They felt real,” Enjolras mumbled, “I mean, I know I don't technically know yet, but...they were pretty intense.”
“Yeah,” Combeferre said, “I'm almost a doctor and it gave me a scare.”
As he said this a nurse appeared in the doorway, clipboard in hand.
“How are you getting along?” she asked.
“Okay,” Enjolras reported, “The contractions are easing off now...”
“That's good,” The nurse said, checking over some of the machines, “Looks like we called it – just some really strong Braxton Hicks. Baby's heartrate is fine, your blood pressure looks normal...” she glanced up from her clipboard, looking between him and Combeferre with a cheery smile.
“Is this dad? Uh, other dad?"
“Godfather,” Combeferre corrected helpfully, “Uh, well, godfather-to-be, I guess?”
“Oh,” The nurse raised her eyebrows, “Unusual choice of companion for the emergency room, but lovely that you're here for support.”
“I've called his partner,” Combeferre informed her, catching Enjolras off guard. He whirled to face him, glaring.
“You did what?!”
“I'm sorry,” Combeferre said, holding up his hands as if Enjolras was pointing a gun at him, “But Grantaire has a right to know. He'd be worried sick about you otherwise and you know it.”
Enjolras wanted to be angry with him – hell, he was trying really, really hard to be angry. When he'd told Grantaire to get out that morning he'd meant it. But, well...he couldn't blame Combeferre for doing what he'd done. And, privately, he was grateful - he missed Grantaire already. Even if he wasn't quite his Grantaire. Even if they'd fought.
Even if Grantaire didn't want him.
“Fine,” he said, averting his gaze to hide the relief in his eyes, “How did you even get hold of him? He hasn't got his phone – and I don't know if he'd even know how to use it if he did.”
“I called Joly,” Combeferre explained, “Grantaire was at his place...”
“How did he get there?”
“Not a clue. Joly doesn't know either.”
Enjolras sighed, laying one hand on his stomach and watching as the nurse left, scribbling down notes as she went.
“Whatever,” he said, “I'm assuming he's on his way here?”
“They're bringing him.”
“Is outside. They'd only let one of us in at a time - didn't want to crowd you,” Combeferre explained, “He's waiting his turn.”
“Great. I hope I'm out of here soon,” Enjolras said, “I'm so bored.”
“I didn't think to pack a book when you called me,” Combeferre said apologetically, “It all happened in kind of a hurry. I'm sure we can find a way to pass the time.”
“A game of 'I Spy'?”
“Are you serious?” Enjolras groaned, “I'm not ten, Ferre!”
“Sorry. It'll only be another hour or so, I imagine. Nothing's wrong with you, they just want to be sure...”
Enjolras opened his mouth to complain some more (he had every right, right?) but at that exact moment Courfeyrac appeared in the doorway.
“Ta-da!” he cried, striking a pose, “Don't worry everyone, world's best godfather is here! Uh, no offence, 'Ferre.”
“None taken,” Combeferre smirked, “What are you doing here? Did they give you permission?”
“No,” Courfeyrac said, sitting himself down on the foot of Enjolras' bed and patting his leg, “The receptionist went on her coffee break and I slipped past like a ninja."
“Cunning,” Enjolras said flatly.
“Aren't I just?” Courfeyrac beamed, “How are things, anyway? Are you both okay?” he asked, gesturing to his stomach.
“We're fine. False contractions.”
“That sounds shitty,” Courfeyrac said, “Are you getting out soon...?”
“Hopefully,” Combeferre told him, “They just want to monitor him a little longer, just to be sure.”
“In the meantime I'm going to die of boredom, unfortunately," Enjolras muttered, “Combeferre suggested 'I Spy'!”
“I could get a crossword from the waiting room?” Combeferre said. Courfeyrac snorted.
“'I Spy' and crosswords are mind-numbing," he said, "Oh, hey – we could pretend there's a scandalous love triangle going on and Combeferre and I could pretend to fight over you! You know, really give the interns something to talk about at the water cooler?"
“I'll pass on that offer, thanks,” Enjolras said, rolling his eyes fondly, “Fine, 'Ferre - I'm admitting defeat. Go find me a crossword puzzle.”
He was halfway through the puzzle and stuck on four across, three down, when Grantaire burst into the room, his eyes wide and causing such a scene that several nurses paused as they passed by the door to the room.
“Enjolras?!" he cried, "My god – what happened?! Are you okay? The baby---”
“We're fine,” Enjolras said, heart lifting a little to see the concern in his eyes, “We're both fine, don't worry.”
Grantaire gave a great sigh of relief, sinking to his knees next to the bed, “Thank god,” he said, “I thought---I was so---”
“Didn't Joly explain?” Combeferre asked, “I told him on the phone---”
“I thought he was just attempting to keep me calm,” Grantaire said, glancing between them, “I did not know what to think. What happened? Tell me, I beg.”
“After you left I tried to go back to sleep,” Enjolras said, folding his hands awkwardly in his lap, “I had another nightmare and I woke up having contractions. I thought I was going into early labour, so I called Combeferre...”
“And he rushed him to the hospital!” Courfeyrac finished, kissing Combeferre on the cheek, “My hero!”
“I wasn't anyone's hero – he's perfectly fine,” Combeferre pointed out.
“But still – if he hadn't been, you'd have saved the day!”
Grantaire shook his head, visibly devastated, “Enjolras – forgive me, please. This is all my fault – I upset you. I wasn't there, I should have been there...”
“I was the one who made you leave,” Enjolras argued, heart breaking to see him so upset; he reached out, grabbing his hand, and felt the same jolt of energy that had surged through his arm the day before. Grantaire stared at their entwined fingers, breathless.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras said, “I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have said what I did. I just...I know I'm not what you hoped I'd be, and---”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I'm not like...like him,” Enjolras ventured, “The Enjolras you remember. He was all fierce and golden and admirable, and I'm a bit more, well---”
“You think you are not admirable as you are?” Grantaire said, cutting across him, “You truly think that?”
“Well I'm not him---”
“I love you, Enjolras,” Grantaire said, voice ringing with so much conviction that it left Enjolras floored.
“I do. In any time,” Grantaire vowed, “I cannot even imagine a lifetime in which I would not be hopelessly in love with you, imperfections and all.”
Enjolras drew in a trembling breath, feeling tears staring to sting the corners of his eyes, “Oh fuck,” he said, “That's nice to know.”
Grantaire smiled, “Yes? Good.”
“But then why did you go to Jehan?” Enjolras asked.
“I told you – I required Prouvaire's advice,”
“About, well...” Grantaire ran one hand nervously through his hair, “I remembered something.”
Enjolras felt his breath hitch.
“Yes. I remember kissing you on Ponts Des Arts...” Grantaire said, eyes locked on his, “At least, I believe I do. It feels real.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Well it was just before dawn, when the city was still sleeping. It was warm – summer - and the street-lamps on the river---”
“Made the water sparkle,” Enjolras said, voice small, “That's right. How? When?”
“At Jardin des Tuileries,” Grantaire informed him, “It was bothering me all day...”
“That's why you were acting so strangely,” Enjolras guessed, the realisation coming over him all at once. That made sense – of course he would go to Jehan about that! Of course!
“Why didn't you tell me?” he asked, feeling suddenly hurt that he was apparently the last to know.
“I did not wish to get your hopes up,” Grantaire confessed, “In case it should come to pass that I do not recall anything else.”
“I wish you'd just said,” Enjolras said, glancing at their clasped hands again. It felt familiar. It felt right.
“I am sorry,” Grantaire said, voice cracking, “I should have told you – I should have. And...and I shouldn't have said what I did about you being hysterical. I have since been informed that that is incorrect information and that I was being, as Joly put it in the car, 'a massive dick'.”
Enjolras laughed, his heart fluttering in his chest like a trapped butterfly.
“A bit,” he agreed, “I'm sorry for the things I said, too. Can we call it even?”
“We can.” Grantaire smiled, “But will you come with me to Ponts Des Arts tomorrow? Prouvaire theorises that it may help me regain some of my memories.”
“I will.” Enjolras said, taking Grantaire's hand and placing it on his stomach so that he could feel the baby moving, “Consider it a date.”
The sun was just rising when they reached Ponts Des Arts. It was that strange and rarest hour when all of Paris was deserted, a vast, sweeping city turned ghost town. Everything was still and quiet - Paris taking a deep breath between the busy hours. It was magical, Grantaire thought - in any lifetime.
He glanced back over his shoulder to look at Enjolras, overtired and unenthusiastic, trailing a few steps behind him as they walked along the bridge.
“Why did we come here this early, again?” he complained, huddling into his coat and scarf.
“Forgive me,” Grantaire said, “I just thought it might be helpful to get the circumstances as close as possible to how they were when we first kissed.”
“It was before dawn, not during,”
“That's true, but I wasn't about to drag you from our bed at five o'clock...”
“But it's perfectly fine to drag me out of bed at six, of course,” Enjolras said, arching one eyebrow. Grantaire felt himself flush.
“We can go back---”
“No, it's fine,” Enjolras said, yawning loudly, “I'm sorry - I'm just sleepy. Someone was keeping me awake all night.”
“Me?” Grantaire guessed.
“The baby,” Enjolras said, rolling his eyes.
“Ah.” Grantaire said, giving a wry smile, “Well when we return home you may sleep as long as you like.” he promised.
“I'll hold you to that,” Enjolras warned, joining him at the edge of the railings and staring out at the surface of the Seine, “It was about here,” he said, “Or near as damn it, anyway.”
“The view is lovely,” Grantaire commented.
“It is,” Enjolras said, “Even if it is ridiculously early in the morning...”
“I am sorry---”
“It's fine, really. It's probably best to do this now anyway, before it gets busy. Tourists and all, you know...” Enjolras shrugged, “Fucking 'love locks'.”
“They do look rather ugly,” Grantaire agreed, giving a few of the locks on the rails a curious rattle, “Why do people do it again...?”
“Some shit about their love lasting as long as the locks are on there, I think,” Enjolras said, smirking, “I bet a lot of people were upset the last time a bunch of them got removed.”
“I thought you were all about defying the authorities?” Grantaire joked.
“I am,” Enjolras said fiercely, “Don't get me wrong - but the locks weighed so much they were making the bridge structurally unsound. It was dangerous. And hideous, too – they were aesthetically damaging.”
Enjolras scoffed, “I know, I know - I guess I'm too Parisian for my own good.”
“That's not your fault,” Grantaire said, shooting him a fond look, “If I recall this exact conversation is what prompted our first kiss...”
“It is,” Enjolras said, a dreamy quality suddenly entering his voice, “It was perfect – at least, I think so. I'm not really a romantic person, but it was pretty great as far as first kisses go. Not that I had anything to compare it to, but, you know. It was nice."
“It was perfect,” Grantaire agreed, “I remember that much, at least."
He glanced out towards the river again, watching the way the rising sun seemed to bleed into the water, turning it a violent, brilliant shade of orange. It was as though the Seine had turned into a brand of fire.
“Well?” Enjolras said after a long while, “Anything?”
Grantaire searched his mind, desperate – so very, very desperate. He closed his eyes, waiting for something, anything, to come back to him. He felt like he was alone in a dark room, scrambling for purchase on whatever he could find, feeling his way through the darkness. All those memories, all those moments – they had to be somewhere. They could not be lost.
He gripped the edge of the railing, slowing his breathing and trying to focus.
“Grantaire?” Enjolras said quietly.
“No,” Grantaire said, opening his eyes, “No – nothing.”
He felt a hot, angry feeling bubbling up in his chest.
It wasn't right. It wasn't fair.
This was supposed to be it – the great secret to how he got his memories back.
If standing on Ponts Des Arts at sunrise with Enjolras didn't do it, then it was hopeless.
He was doomed – destined to be stuck in the wrong timeline forever, searching for memories that would never come to him. As he realised this the feeling in his chest finally spilled over, weeks of despair and frustration bursting out of him.
He stepped back, kicking the rails and turning away with a cry of anguish.
“I do not understand!” he said, shouting it to the sky, “I had thought---I was so certain---”
“It's okay,” Enjolras said softly, “Grantaire, really, it's okay--”
“No, it isn't!” Grantaire sobbed, hands in his hair, “It isn't! I want to remember, Enjolras! I want to remember so badly – I want you to love me again----”
“I do love you,” Enjolras cried, “Grantaire, I do love you!”
The words caught him so off guard that for a moment Grantaire was certain he had misheard him. He turned back around to look at him, stunned.
“I said that I do love you,” Enjolras said, eyes searching his, “I do love you, Grantaire.”
“I...truly?” Grantaire whispered, part of him unable to believe it, “Even as I am now?”
“Exactly as you are now,” Enjolras confirmed, taking a step towards him, “I...I didn't know at first. It was hard – it was, I won't lie. But you're Grantaire - you always have been, I've just refused to see it. I was so focused on you getting your memories back that I didn't stop to think about how we should be making new ones.”
“But I'm not---”
“You are,” Enjolras said, reaching for his hand; Grantaire felt his skin tingle.
“You have the same smile, the same sense of humour. The same weaknesses and strengths, the same warmth and tenderness,” Enjolras whispered, “Jehan was right; you're the same man, just a little muddled up - and I love you.”
“I do,” Enjolras said, “And if I didn't in your lifetime then, well...I was clearly a fool.”
Grantaire thought his heart was about to sprout wings and fly away – it felt like a dream.
“I love you too,” he said, “Though of course you know so already. I love you and I always will, no matter the century. But really, Enjolras? Do you mean what you say?”
“When have you known me not to?” Enjolras pointed out. Grantaite felt a breathless laugh escape his lips.
“That is true,” he said, “But this is...well, it is asking a lot.”
“Maybe,” Enjolras conceded, “But we'll make it work. And hey...while we're here we could get started on making new memories...”
Enjolras nodded, the morning light dancing in his bright blue eyes, “How about a second first kiss?” he said.
Grantaire felt the air rush out of him. He smiled – probably a little too widely.
“I would like that very much,” he said, “The one memory I have is pleasant – but not so pleasant as it would be to kiss you for real.”
Enjolras' cheeks turned a very charming shade of pink.
“Okay then,” he said, shuffling closer to him to close the gap between them.
“So, ah – should I---” Grantaire started, timidly bringing one hand up to cup Enjolras' cheek. They were both bashful, like two children clumsy with the giddy flutters of first love.
“Whenever you're ready,” Enjolras said, smiling nervously.
“I've been ready for one hundred and eighty six years.” Grantaire told him, leaning forward, “I can't wait another second.”
Their lips met, the stars aligned, and Grantaire tasted heaven on the mouth of an angel. His heart was racing, pounding in his ears, and then---and then----
Floods of images and thoughts crashed over him, wave after wave that dragged him under until all that filled his mind was memory after memory.
Kisses at dawn, Enjolras' laugh ringing like music in his ears. Singing in the shower, walking through the Louvre hand-in-hand, dinners and coffee dates.
Smiles and fights and whispers in the dark. Warm skin on warm skin, nails down his back.
The thrill of finding their apartment together, breakfast in bed, lazy days, bickering, loving, living – the overwhelming joy that he'd felt when Enjolras had presented him with a positive pregnancy test.
He broke away with a gasp, feeling as if he'd just broken the surface after being trapped underwater for years.
“Enjolras!” he said, beaming, “I remember! Enjolras---oh my god, I---I remember!”
But Enjolras he didn't seem to share his excitement.
His eyes were wide and his mouth was hanging open almost comically.
“Enjolras?” Grantaire said, confused, “Are you okay?”
Enjolras didn't respond – he just stared at him, looking as if he was about to be violently ill.
“Enjolras?” Grantaire said again, touching his fingers tentatively to his cheek again.
Enjolras let out a little gasp at the contact, as though he'd been holding his breath, and then suddenly his legs buckled beneath him.
Grantaire caught him just in time.
Don't worry y'all are getting a short epilogue too.
When Enjolras woke up he was sprawled out in bed, staring up at the ceiling. For a brief moment he wondered if what had happened on Ponts Des Arts was a dream - it definitely felt like it should have been.
The memories were jumbled and interwoven, hard to extract from one another and knotted together in places but there, all there. Something had happened the moment they had kissed – something extraordinary, something that a month earlier Enjolras would have dismissed as mere fantasy. The energy that had passed between them was still vibrating through him, buzzing in the tips of his toes and humming in his chest.
He flexed his fingers, curling his hand into a fist; he could feel Grantaire's hand burning there still, phantom fingers in the empty space where his hand should have been.
We were together...
“This is bad,” he heard, suddenly realising he wasn't alone in the room. He strained his ears, listening closely.
“What happens if he wakes up in the position I was in?!” he heard Grantaire saying frantically, “That Enjolras could barely stand me! And the baby – fuck, what is he going to think when he finds out he's pregnant? And that it's mine?!”
“We'll cross that bridge when we come to it,” said a voice that Enjolras recognised as Combeferre's, “Try not to panic yet, okay?”
“I can't promise that and you know it. This is a nightmare.”
Enjolras' heart ached to hear the worry in his voice; he propped himself up on his elbows, head spinning. It felt like his skull had been stuffed with cotton wool.
“Grantaire?” he called, voice raspy.
Combeferre and Grantaire both spun around to look at him, shocked.
“Enjolras,” Combeferre said, “Uh...are you alright? How are you feeling?”
“I'm fine,” Enjolras said, sitting up, “I think. I don't know, I feel...older.”
“Older?” Grantaire echoed, realisation creeping across his features, “But you...you remember everything, right? I mean – you remember what happened yesterday?”
“Yesterday I was in hospital,” Enjolras stated, “Today we kissed on Ponts Des Arts, and...well...” he sucked in a deep breath, holding one hand to his temple, “My head hurts...”
“It's alright, it's okay,” Grantaire soothed, rushing to his side, “Jehan is on his way over. What do you remember?”
Enjolras looked up to meet his gaze, seeing the fear and trepidation in his face.
“Everything,” he said, “I remember everything. Grantaire, I...you lied to me.”
“What?” Grantaire whispered, “I don't know what you mea---”
“When we died,” Enjolras said, “Grantaire, why did you not tell me?”
Grantaire swallowed hard, looking as though he was struggling for words, “I...well...you were missing him so much. Me, rather. I'm me again now – I think. I don't think I stopped being me, actually...”
“You didn't,” Enjolras agreed, staring at him, “But why didn't you tell me how we died? You...you were so brave...” he reached out instinctively, aching to touch him; Grantaire took his hand, lacing their fingers together. This time there was no shock, no jolt of static – just warm skin and a feeling that everything was as it should be.
“I wasn't brave,” Grantaire argued, “I was desperate and in love and terrified. I couldn't let you die alone. And...and I didn't tell you because I thought it would make things harder on you. You were already going through so much, Enjolras. I didn't want you to feel pressured to love that version of me just because I'm a fool with no instinct for self-preservation.”
“Well I appreciate it,” Enjolras said, glancing at their hands – the memory there was strong, blazing so fiercely in his mind that he was certain if he closed his eyes again he would see it all.
“You made the end far less lonely,” he said.
“I had let you down,” Grantaire murmured, “It was the least I could do.”
“I'm sorry,” Enjolras said, “For the cruelty of my words, before it all...”
“They were well deserved.”
“Perhaps a little – but they were still harsh.”
He glanced around then, realising that he was back at the apartment, in their bedroom.
“How did I get here...?”
“A taxi,” Grantaire explained, “When you fainted on Ponts Des Arts I had to carry you off the bridge to the road. I got some weird looks, let me tell you. Having to repeatedly explain to a taxi driver that I hadn't just murdered my pregnant partner isn't how I want to start my day ever again - I thought he was going to drive me to the police station and turn me in."
Enjolras managed a chuckle, resting his head against Grantaire's shoulder. He squeezed his hand tightly, never wanting to let go again; the distant memory of fingers slipping away from his own made the thought unbearable.
“Thanks for bringing me home.” he said.
“Well I did consider leaving you there, but since it would be bad parenting as well as bad boyfriending I thought it probably best not to...” Grantaire teased.
“Haha,” Enjolras said, breaking off with a grimace; his head was still throbbing.
Grantaire smiled sadly, pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead, “I'll go get you some painkillers,” he said, “You should rest up.”
“Maybe so, but you should sleep off your headache.”
“I did love you.”
“In eighteen-thirty-two,” Enjolras said, “I did love you – but I couldn't...I didn't say it.”
Grantaire blinked once, a thousand different emotions raging behind his eyes.
“I...I couldn't afford to love someone,” Enjolras continued, wringing his hands anxiously, “Not then. Not with everything that was happening. But I did love you – silently, in my own way.”
The corners of Grantaire's lips twitched into a small smile.
“Well,” he said, “I have to admit that makes me feel a little bit better about my decision to get shot with you.”
A ridiculous laugh burst from Enjolras' chest at that; he seized Grantaire by the collar with his free hand, dragging him to him to kiss him full on the mouth.
It was bliss to kiss him again – to really kiss him. It was warm and passionate and somehow, though they'd gotten very good at kissing over the last three years, it felt new - it felt like a first kiss, all over again.
I never kissed him back then, he realised; this is a first kiss.
After a moment they broke apart, both of them gasping for air and red in the face.
“Sorry,” Enjolras panted, “I think nineteenth century me had wanted to do that for a while.”
Grantaire grinned from ear to ear.
“He's more than welcome to do it again,” he said, "Encouraged, even."
Enjolras would have taken him up on the offer if Combeferre hadn't coughed loudly, making him startle; in the midst of all the emotion he'd completely forgotten that he was there. He blushed brightly.
“Well, uh...I'll give you two some time alone,” Combeferre said, clearing his throat, “I'm sure you have a lot to talk about – and, uh, I could definitely go without seeing you make out like a couple of teenagers.”
“What about Jehan?” Enjolras asked, “Isn't he coming over...?”
“Yeah, but...I think you guys have it covered.” Combeferre said, gesturing to the two of them, “You seem to be handling it well without him.”
“I've had a lot of practice over the last month,” Enjolras joked.
Combeferre smiled; “I'll leave you to it, then,” he said, closing the door behind him.
“We should probably talk about things,” Grantaire said after a few minutes, breaking the comfortable silence, “About everything that happened on the barricades...”
“We should,” Enjolras said, nodding thoughtfully, “But not yet. I...I am not ready. It is still fresh, still painful..."
Grantaire brought his hand up to his lips, kissing his knuckles sweetly, “It's okay. We have all the time in the world.” he said. Enjolras felt his heart lift. Things would be fine – looking at Grantaire he knew it with overwhelming certainty. They were meant to be together. Revolutions had failed, monarchies had fallen and wars had been raged, but through it all, across time, across space, they had found each other again.
There was nothing coincidental about that – nothing accidental.
“We don't need to rush anything,” Grantaire went on, brown eyes twinkling, “It's been over a hundred years. What's a little more time?”
Enjolras pressed his hand with a smile.
Chapter 19: Epilogue
6 Months Later
“He's breathing, right?”
“Yes, Grantaire – he's breathing.”
“Sorry,” Grantaire said, smiling sheepishly, “I'm just worried. I'm allowed to be worried, right? That's a normal new parent thing, yeah?”
“It is,” Enjolras confirmed, sidling up to him to kiss his cheek. Grantaire wrapped his arms around him, holding him close against his chest as they looked down into the cot at the tiny person sleeping there. He looked so peaceful, all long eyelashes and dark curls. It was still astounding to Grantaire that something that resembled him so closely could be so beautiful.
“He's perfect,” he murmured.
“He is,” Enjolras agreed, “Absolutely perfect.”
Grantaire beamed, watching the gentle rise and fall of their son's chest, the way his fingers twitched occasionally as he dreamed.
“Come on,” Enjolras urged, taking his hand, “We should let him sleep - we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow,”
“That's true,” Grantaire sighed, following him out of the nursery rather reluctantly. He could have gone on watching Camille sleep forever.
“Do you think he'll be good at the wedding?” he asked, closing the door softly behind him.
“If we let him rest he will be,” Enjolras said, leading him towards their bedroom, “Remember, we need to sleep when he sleeps – that's what all the experts say.”
“I don't hold to that,” Grantaire scoffed, hands dropping to Enjolras' waist, “Whoever wrote that advice never had you they could be kissing instead...”
Enjolras laughed, prying himself free; “Much as I would enjoy that, we need to sleep too,” he reminded him, raising one eyebrow, “I have a very important job tomorrow.”
Grantaire snorted, “'Joint Best Man' isn't even a thing.”
“It is now.”
“Whatever. Still can't believe Courferre decided not to elope after all...”
“Combeferre told you to stop calling them that,” Enjolras chastised, though he seemed amused.
“It was Courfeyrac that started it,” Grantaire protested, “And it fits them.”
“If you say so...”
“I do say so. I also say that we can stay up another hour and survive – unless you really want to go to sleep.”
Enjolras gave a thoughtful little hum, sitting himself down on the bed. A dark look entered his eyes, a look Grantaire was intimately familiar with.
“I suppose we could stay up a bit longer,” he said.
Grantaire did not require any further encouragement; he joined him on the bed, kissing him fiercely on the lips, Enjolras letting out a small squeak of delight against his mouth.
They'd barely gotten down to the very important business divesting each other of their clothing when Enjolras' phone began vibrating on the nightstand.
“Ignore it,” Grantaire begged, peppering Enjolras' jaw with hot, hungry kisses.
“I can't,” Enjolras argued, grudgingly tearing himself away, “It's late. It could be important.”
“This is important,” Grantaire said, whining a little as Enjolras rolled across the mattress to grab his phone. He watched his face go from red to white in an instant as he answered, his mouth dropping open.
“I---okay,” he stammered, sliding from the bed and starting to pace, “I---'Ferre, calm down, okay? Yes---yes, I know, but----Combeferre. Okay. Yes. Okay. Just give me ten minutes, alright? Okay. See you soon. Bye.”
“What's wrong?” Grantaire asked, baffled, “Is 'Ferre getting cold feet?”
“No,” Enjolras said, picking up the few items of clothing Grantaire had managed to get off him before the phone had interrupted them, “I need you to go wake Camille up.”
“But we just got him down,"
“Please. We have to go to Combeferre and Courfeyrac's.”
“Both of us?” Grantaire said, “Can't one of us stay here with the baby...?”
“No.” Enjolras said, turning to look at him.
His jaw twitched, but other than this he remained terrifyingly calm.
“It's happened to Courfeyrac too.”