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Incendiary

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Combeferre was unsurprised to see the flicker of lamplight when he pushed open the door to Enjolras’s lodgings, even though he was arriving at nearly midnight. Stepping into the room, he saw that Enjolras was still seated at his desk, writing. Combeferre moved forward until he was standing next to Enjolras and peered inquisitively over the other man’s shoulder. "What are you working on? Is that the speech for tomorrow?”

Enjolras gave an affirmative hum as he dipped his pen into its inkwell, making a light clink when the nib made contact with the porcelain.

Ever perceptive in matters relating to his friend, Combeferre noticed Enjolras’s less-than-steady hand, the gentle nodding of his head, the subtle droop of his eyelids. There was no question; Enjolras was starting to tire. Combeferre wondered aloud, "Are you certain that your efforts are still productive at this hour?"

Enjolras nodded emphatically, though in spite of his enthusiasm, it was evident that his head seemed heavier than usual. “I assure you, this speech—“ try as he might to convince Combeferre otherwise, Enjolras failed to suppress a yawn— “this speech will be well-crafted.”

Combeferre smiled wryly. “If that’s the case, then you won’t mind my taking a look?” Enjolras snorted derisively, but ceased his writing and pushed the paper toward Combeferre, who delicately lifted it off the table, careful not to smudge the ink. Combeferre murmured the words aloud as he read, wanting to get a feel for the rhythm of the language Enjolras had chosen; quickly, he realized that this would be more of an undertaking than he’d thought.

“…Fiat lux! The future will be illuminated. It is by this light, luce posteritatis, that we must observe our actions today, for it is by this light that we will be observed by those generations for whose benefit we seek change. By the light of the future, we shall learn. But who can benefit fully from any light if he cannot read? Education is therefore essential; literacy is essential, because without equal access to the written word, how can true equality be achieved? To promote equality, we must offer aid to our fellows who lack what we have been given. Enjolrates infelices Enjolratibus felicibus succurrendi sunt. Having been given opportunity, litteras igitur incendere adiuvare debeo. Audientes fortuna iuvat…

Enjolras’s bright laughter pierced the stillness of the late hour, abruptly but not harshly interrupting the steady cadence of Combeferre’s reading. “Did I really write that?”

Combeferre couldn’t hold back a chuckle, his soft, deep tones joining Enjolras’s lighter ones as he replaced the paper on the desk before Enjolras, nodding. “You cannot illuminate others, mi care incendiarie, if you are burnt out yourself.” He rested a hand on Enjolras’s shoulder, then bent down to press a tender kiss to his temple, nudging aside golden locks of hair with the tip of his nose. Combeferre then murmured more quietly into Enjolras’s ear, “Come to bed. The speech can wait until tomorrow…” Combeferre’s voice trailed off distractedly, and when finally he spoke again, it was deeper, but not without levity. “If you must ignite passions tonight, let them be mine.”

He heard Enjolras draw in a sharp breath, and pulled back in time to see his eyes open wider than Combeferre had seen them all evening. The red of his cheeks seemed to glow all the brighter in the lamplight, his eyes to blaze a more startling shade of blue. When Enjolras turned his head and lifted his eyes to meet Combeferre’s, there was something inscrutable in them. But his eyelids soon lowered, his lips pressed together in an amicable smile, and Enjolras laid down his pen. “Of course,” he responded, his eyes half-lidded and his voice thick with drowsiness and contentment.

Combeferre felt a familiar surge of warmth spread through his chest at the sheer unguardedness of Enjolras’s expression, at the realization of the amount of trust he was being shown. It was as if, even after all these years of having known Enjolras, he still had trouble believing how much the man confided in him; or perhaps, after all these years, he simply had a better understanding of how much it meant. Such moments of vulnerability were precious, and they endeared Enjolras to him all the more.

Lost in his thoughts, Combeferre did not even notice that Enjolras had begun to move. Before Combeferre even realized he’d stood, Enjolras seemed in a single fluid movement to flow up out of his chair, press a warm kiss to Combeferre’s lips, and proceed in the direction of the bedroom. A dazed smile spread across Combeferre’s lips, and he followed fast behind.